Many see president-elect Donald Trump as a disruptive force in international trade, after he decided to cancel the transpacific trade agreement TPP. But for the relations between China and the US, Trump might actually be a blessing in disguise and can deal with China´s protectionism and other issues, argues Shanghai-based business analyst Shaun Rein, author of The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia for CNN.
During the campaign, Trump demonized China over alleged currency manipulation and for stealing American jobs. To get tough on China he threatened to slap a 45% tariff on goods made there.However, contrary to the fears of many China’s watchers who are put off by Trump, there are several reasons a Trump presidency might actually help US-China relations, lowering the risk of military tensions and buttressing US business interests.Because Trump is less concerned about diplomatic niceties, and doesn’t appear to have an underlying strict foreign policy ideology, he can and should lobby for an end to protectionism in China.While Beijing seems to regard President Obama as a pushover, they won’t be able to ignore a threatening and volatile Trump who fights for a fairer playing field for US firms.
Protectionism has always been a problem in China.US automakers like GM are forced to enter into joint ventures with state-owned enterprises rather than owning outright their production facilities.Banks and insurance companies like Citigroup are similarly hamstrung by regulations limiting ownership and business scope.For the internet sector, good luck trying to get into China — websites from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube are all blocked in the name of national security.When China entered the World Trade Organization 15 years ago, protectionism was less of an issue when the market accounted for a relatively small proportion of the global economy and lumbering Chinese companies were playing catch up.But now, China is the world’s second largest economy and has global champions like Huawei — the world’s largest producer of mobile phones — or Wanda — a real estate firm buying up Hollywood studios and cinemas — that cannot be allowed unfettered access to the US market when American firms are left picking up scraps in China.
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