An 'Overwhelmingly Domestic President,' Donald Trump Sees China through Economic Lens

Kevin Rudd on CGTN

On January 23, 2017, CGTN anchor Tian Wei interviewed ASPI President Kevin Rudd and Yuan Peng, Vice President of the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, on what the Trump Administration will mean for China and the international community.

Rudd described U.S. President Donald Trump as an “American nationalist” and a “protectionist.” And while Trump is likely to be “an overwhelmingly domestic President,” Rudd argued that it would be “premature” to call Trump an isolationist.

Trump’s “domestic campaign economic rhetoric is directly related to his anti-Chinese rhetoric,” explained Rudd. “When he talks about making the American economy great again – when he talks about restoring American jobs, restoring American industries, rebuilding American towns and cities and rebuilding their regions – his parallel message is all these jobs, all these industries have been taken away and basically exported to China or to other countries in Asia.”

Trump views China primarily through this “economic lens,” Rudd stated. “It is about trade, it is about investment, it is about intellectual property, etc. And that, I think, is where we are going to see the biggest immediate challenges in the relationship between Beijing and Washington.”

Rudd also expressed concerns about the state of the global order, arguing that the “elements of the international order which prevent us from degenerating into absolute international chaos” are increasingly plagued by uncertainty. In particular, Rudd mentioned the uncertainty in U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China relations, the ambivalence of the new U.S. Administration about the UN multilateral system, and the debate raging around the world about the virtues of globalization. (19 min., 33 sec.)