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Foreign Policy

The Biggest Test for the New U.S. President

Jan 25 , 2017
  • Wu Zurong

    Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

The biggest test for President Trump is whether or not he could manage to truly give back power to the people by his actions. Though it is very hard to say at this point if he would carry out this pledge made in his inauguration speech, he has already arened high marks for explaining the very special meaning of his inaugural ceremony. He said, “…because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.”

It is a revolutionary manifesto no matter how it is analyzed. It is even more encouraging that Trump has discovered that in the U.S. “for too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while people have borne the cost, Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.” His radical complaint of wrong governance in state affairs and unfairness in wealth distribution between the small number of politician masters and the broad masses of the people is of great significance for the transformation of the country. It was meaningful for him to sharply point out the reasons why all that has taken place in the U.S. when he said that “the establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”As he has found the malpractice of the government, he went on to declare that all changes starting “right here and right now” belong to the people. It seems that Trump is very serious about the historic change, he is determined to make, in the power-sharing between the few political masters and the people. Is he going to declare war on the evils of government?

As Trump is one of the richest in the U.S. and his executive team members are mostly wealthy people or retired generals, most people feel hesitant to believe that he would truly give power to the people by making the revolutionary changes in the country’s strong political establishment and wealth distribution system. Some may believe he is merely shouting empty, misleading political slogans to deceive voters for the sake of winning the hearts of the people and soothing his angry opponents. It is ridiculous to believe in his deceptive political slogans.

From the Chinese perspective, people generally think that the U.S. is a capitalist country and the government serves the interests of the rich. It is normal that a small group of rich people and politician masters has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. If he is genuinely and sincerely planning to transform the U.S. into a new country by giving back power to the people and by making people reap the rewards of government, Trump would have more common ground with Chinese. He could get a lot of help and new ideas when he gets down to business with Chinese if both can learn from each other in the governance of state affairs.

China is a socialist country where all power belongs to people and serving the people with heart and soul is the most fundamental purpose of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and the government.

First, however, it is a daunting task for Trump to know and believe that China is a country where people are the true masters of their country and government for the people is the sole criterion of all the work of the CPC. He needs to make a careful and comprehensive study of China before he has meetings or dialogues with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders. The book “Governance of China”by Xi Jinping would be the first recommendation for him among all books on China.

Second, governance of state affairs should be included as an essential element in the regular senior level dialogues between two countries. Trump has a difficult and long-term mission to complete the power transfer from Washington, D.C. to the people. The mission is so complicated and arduous that it cannot be done overnight. As China and the U.S. are so different in political system, cultural tradition and history, it is no easy job to find the areas of governance in which the two countries can share experiences and lessons.

Third, the dialogues between the CPC and the U.S. Republican and Democratic parties should be strengthened in order to increase mutual political understanding. As Republicans and Democrats are so divided in the governance of state affairs, and so also are Republicans among themselves, many hold vastly different political views with Trump. So dialogues need to be conducted between the CPC and the GOP, and also between the CPC and the Democratic Party.

Fourth, in view of the urgent needs of the Trump administration and China’s experiences, how to initiate cooperation in poverty elimination and large-scale infrastructure construction could become the priorities in the political dialogues on governance of state affairs.

China and the U.S. are two very different large countries in the world. At this important historical juncture, it benefits both countries to make utmost efforts to find areas in which they could strengthen cooperation, instead of exaggerating their differences. Over emphasizing difference and competition between the two countries could lead to negligence of possible opportunities of cooperation. After all, between China and the U.S., dialogue is better than confrontation, and cooperation is better than conflict.

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