Kevin Rudd: China's Game Plan with Trump is 'Strategic Patience'

Interview on CNN

On December 6, 2016, ASPI President Kevin Rudd spoke to CNN's Richard Quest about China's reactions to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Rudd stated that Chinese analysts are divided on Trump and what he means for U.S.-China relations. According to Rudd, there are some in China that see strategic opportunities in a Trump presidency, given the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the decline of U.S. leadership on climate change, and the potential destabilization of U.S. alliances in Asia. On the other hand, he believes that Chinese "strategic-pessimists," who are concerned about "what candidate Trump's been saying about the economy and what he's now saying as transition Trump," are gaining in ascendancy within China's policy circles. 

Rudd said that Trump "is a unique President; he has his own particular style." He felt that Trump's strategic approach might be "there is a virtue in being unpredictable." He argued that what Trump could be doing "is probing and pushing and trying to identify where exactly Chinese parameters are."

Rudd pointed out that the Chinese "haven't risen to" Trump's provocation thus far. "They really don't like strategic uncertainty," Rudd said, predicting that the Chinese are likely to approach Trump with "strategic patience." He recommended that the rest of the world follow suit in their dealings with a Trump administration, because "we are in for at least a couple of months of general uncertainty." (5 min., 48 sec.)