Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. After the polls closed and the votes were counted in a nail biter of an election on November 8, the Trump campaign won enough electoral college votes to defeat Hillary Clinton and retake the White House. Along with a GOP majority in the Senate and the House, President-Elect Trump and Republicans will have free rein over the instruments of American government. As demonstrated by previous Policy Alerts on the nominating conventions and the debates, rising powers have been closely watching the U.S. presidential election to understand how the next administration might change U.S. foreign policy and the global economy. In this Policy Alert, we explore the reactions from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea to the surprise conclusion of the 2016 race for the White House.
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed congratulations to President-elect Trump and his desire to work closely together to “manage differences in a constructive way, in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and win-win.”
Several commentators in China worried Trump’s presidency might have a negative effect on U.S.-China relations and could complicate Beijing’s economic and foreign policy ambitions.
- China Daily saw Trump’s victory as the “logical outcome of the prevailing anti-establishment feelings” in a deeply divided U.S. society. China will have to adapt to “Trump at the helm” and see if his threats to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States and withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change were just campaign rhetoric or a promise.
- Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University, foresaw Beijing being more assertive in its dealings with Washington with Trump’s China policy having “negative effects on Sino-U.S. economic cooperation.”
- Lin Hongyu, scholar at Huaqiao University, credited Trump’s win with the campaign riding a current of anti-globalization to the degree that the election result did “not come as a surprise at all” to those not blinded by the media and elites.
- Shen Dingli, professor of international relations at Fudan University, predicted if Trump “indeed removes the troops from Japan, the Japanese may develop their own nuclear weapons.” He worried “South Korea may also go nuclear if Trump cancels the missile deployment and leaves the country alone facing the North’s threats. How is that good for China?”
Others were less worried about Trump’s victory either because China can adapt or that Trump will be constrained at home.
- Mei Xinyu, research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, thought Trump’s victory would “create a chance to end the ‘self-damaging competition’” between China and the United States.
- On whether Trump would continue Obama’s “Pivot to Asia,” China Daily predicted that while the next administration will not “roll back the U.S. presence in the region,” it matters “a huge difference how the Trump-led” White House “goes about it.”
- Global Times guaranteed China was “strong enough to cope” with President Trump, who is “not as bold enough to really change” the United States.
- Jin Canrong of Remin University considered it “unlikely” Trump will be able to fulfill his foreign policy promises as he is restrained by other conservatives and a pluralistic democracy. Lin Hongyu voiced a similar viewpoint.
- “Democracy is the loser in U.S. Vote,” declared China Daily while criticizing the level of personal attacks and “nasty aspects” of American style democracy. The People’s Daily made a similar claim.
The first U.S. presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump had over 80 million people tune in to watch in the United States. Over the last month, tens of millions more around the world followed the three presidential debates (September 26, October 9, and October 19) and the vice presidential debate (October 4). Though most of the debate time was spent with candidates arguing about the other’s scandals, rising powers have been watching to see whether Asia, Eurasia, and South America found their way onto the agenda. Two of our previous Policy Alerts covered how rising powers witnessed the Democratic and Republican conventions. In this Policy Alert, we explore commentary from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea on the U.S. presidential debates as the November 8 election date approaches.
China found itself as the focus of discussion at several of the debates. For example, China Daily reported the second debate saw Clinton accuse Beijing of orchestrating an “illegal dumping” of cheap steel in the United States and that “Trump is buying it to build things.” Being the center of debate is not a position that many commentators in China appreciated.
- Pushing back against claims by Trump and Clinton that China was manipulating its currency, China Daily ran an entire story quoting a “top U.S. economist” who disagreed with that view.
- Global Times argued Trump’s “particularly arrogant” comments about China has “spread the mentality that the U.S. has suffered losses from its relations with China,” a view that “poses potential threats to global stability.”
- China Daily noted that neither of the vice presidential candidates – Senator Tim Kaine nor Governor Mike Pence – took “radical positions regarding China” when they were governors or congressmen, but they have shifted their views once they joined their respective tickets.
- After the third debate, China Daily’s reporting pushed back on Clinton’s criticisms of women’s rights in China and accusation of dumping cheap steel on the market.
- One light-hearted way some Chinese netizens (an avid internet user) responded to criticisms of their country was by posting joking images of the town hall debate on China’s social media platforms like Weibo making it appear Clinton and Trump were engaged in a musical duet.
With the Abe-Putin summit scheduled in December, Japan should focus on solving not only the dispute over the Northern Territories but also the indigenous rights problem regarding the Ainu people, the native inhabitants of these disputed islands.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in December is a bold step to solve the decades-long dispute over the Northern Territories. The dispute over an island chain northeast of Hokkaido dates back to Soviet occupation of the islands at the end of WWII. Due to the dispute, the two countries have not signed a peace treaty to end the war.
As Japan refocuses on the disputed islands, it should also revisit their history, particularly the colonial past of their indigenous inhabitants, the Ainu. The Japanese government has not fully recognized Ainu indigenous rights while still using them for the territorial dispute negotiations. The country should solve not only the Northern Territories Problem but also the Ainu Problem.
The Ainu are the original inhabitants of Hokkaido (previously called Ezo), Sakhalin, Kuril mainland Japan, and the Northern Territories, where by the thirteenth century they had developed their own distinct culture, language, and livelihood. (more…)Continue Reading →
On June 23, the United Kingdom voted in favor of a referendum for the country to leave the European Union (EU). The 52-48 split vote in support of “Leave” panicked global financial markets and prompted a wave of largely negative reactions from world leaders who had previously urged British voters to “Remain.” Once the British Parliament ratifies the referendum, the country would exit the EU in two years. With U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron resigning in October after leading the effort to stay in the EU, the world watches how these events unfold and whether others, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, now pursue their own independence from Britain.
In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia (who reveled in the vote’s outcome) examining what the vote means for the future of Britain and the EU.
Given the historical linkages between India and the United Kingdom, the “Brexit” – or British Exit – referendum vote was closely followed by leaders in New Delhi and the Indian public. There are 800 Indian companies across multiple sectors like pharmaceuticals, financial services, and IT operating in the U.K. and employing over a million people. (more…)Continue Reading →
Nationalism has recently become more salient in Russian foreign policy debates, especially after the annexation of Crimea last year. How does this resurgence of nationalism affect Russia’s foreign policy and its relationship with the United States and Europe? Should we expect to see a more assertive Russia in the coming years?
There are three broad schools of thought in Russian foreign policy discourse: 1) liberal westernizers; 2) great power balancers; and 3) Russian nationalists. President Vladimir Putin came into power as a great power balancer who at times tacked toward the liberal westernizer camp and at times toward the Russian nationalist camp. But with his decision to annex Crimea one year ago and later in the spring and summer of 2014 to directly support an insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, Putin has firmly placed himself in the camp of Russian nationalists, in fact, quite a chauvinistic strain of Russian nationalism at that.
The question one year later remains why Vladimir Putin took this dramatic and dangerous step. It appears he did so to more firmly consolidate domestic political support for his leadership. Over the course of more than twelve years of his two terms of de jure leadership as President and one term of de facto leadership as Prime Minister, Mr. Putin’s high popularity ratings were principally buttressed by robust economic growth and a sense of growing prosperity among the Russian people.
However, when he returned to the Presidency in May 2012, Russia’s economic performance began to plummet. In 2013, growth stagnated to a meager 1.3%, and on the eve of the military occupation of Crimea at the end of February, growth was close to zero, the ruble was losing value, and capital flight was at an all-time high rate. (more…)Continue Reading →
After sixteen-hours of diplomatic talks in Minsk last week, leaders from Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany reached a ceasefire agreement, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel described as a “glimmer of hope” for the longstandng military conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Although the ceasefire came into effect on Sunday, there have already been reports of fire by pro-Russian rebels in some towns. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, Japan, and India on the ceasefire agreement and the future of the Ukraine crisis.
Russians took a cautious wait-and-see approach to the ceasefire, with some pondering the casefire’s implications for the global and regional order. (more…)Continue Reading →
Following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing two weeks ago, world leaders participated in a number of multilateral forums, including the East Asia Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar and the G-20 in Brisbane, Australia, as well as bilateral and trilateral meetings with allies and partners. The leaders sought to expand their interests and influence in the region as they discussed issues ranging from regional economic integration to international security. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, India, and Japan on the implications of this summit diplomacy for the regional order.
Russian President Vladimir Putin left the G20 meeting early in response to repeated criticism from Western leaders over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Putin said his decision to fly home had nothing to do with tensions over Ukraine and cited a need to catch up on sleep before returning to work. The majority of Russian media was supportive of Putin, praising him for defending Russia’s national interests. (more…)Continue Reading →
Henry R. Nau, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, recently wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle on the ongoing Ukraine crisis. He argues that NATO should step in the crisis and use a little force to prevent Russia’s use of greater force in the future:
NATO is waking up to the single most important lesson of history. Use a little force early to avoid the use of greater force later. Just think if that lesson had been learned before World War II, says Henry R. Nau.
In Ukraine, a little force is being used early – but by only one side. Russia used a little force to occupy Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, then to annex Crimea, and today to dominate the governance of eastern and perhaps the rest of Ukraine. While Europe and America can’t believe what Russia is doing, Vladimir Putin is already using a little force early to address his next objective. Since 2009 Russia has doubled its military forces along its border with the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama announces, at a White House news conference, that “military options are not on the table in Ukraine because this is not a situation that would be amenable to a military solution.” Will that be the case too, if Russia beats the West to the use of a little force early in the Baltic states?
Obama, who had no negotiating experience going into the Oval Office, is getting an education. Diplomacy is not a substitute for the use of force, to be used only if diplomacy fails. In fact, diplomacy will fail unless it is backed by force. And when negotiations fail, much more force is needed. (more…)Continue Reading →
In 2012, the Rising Powers Initiative published an edited volume entitled Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally. The Worldviews volume identifies the most important domestic schools of thought within each country and connects them to the history and institutional development of each nation. In this Policy Brief, Russia chapter author Andrew Kuchins examines how Russia’s foreign policy has evolved over the past two years from the lens of President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, conflict in the Middle East, and U.S.-Russia relations.
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Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have flared up again since North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on November 23. Here is a round-up of Chinese, Japanese and Russian views on this latest crisis:
The Global Times, the official English newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, has been running daily editorials on the crisis:
- It emphasizes that a peaceful Korean Peninsula is in the core of Chinese interests, and warns that tensions on the Korean Peninsula have “now reached a dangerous breaking point… What is happening is not a game. No one can guarantee the situation will not turn into a real war.”
- The paper criticizes South Korea’s rejection of China’s proposal to restart the Six Party Talks, and says North Korea’s actions are proof of the “failure of the hard-line policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration.” South Korea should work with China and “reconsider its security strategy,” since “its alliance with the US cannot guarantee its security.” The headline of the Dec. 2 editorial says “the ball is now in South Korea’s court.”
- There were also strong words for the US role in Asia: (more…)