Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Weakened Trump Presidency May Impact Sino-US Ties
By Wang Wenwen
Global Times
2017/3/26 23:23:39

It was a humiliating moment for US President Trump, many observers said, when the Republican healthcare reform bill he advocated as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or "Obamacare," was pulled from the House floor on Friday without even getting to a vote.

All major powers, including China, are watching Trump's governance in the early days of his presidency, as the US has much influence on future global order. When Trump announced his presidential run in 2015, he declared he would scale back the ACA, a promise he repeated throughout his campaign. On inauguration day, he optimistically signed an executive order directing federal agencies to "ease the burden of Obamacare," followed by the introduction of the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act.

However, the chastening defeat of the bill reveals the limitations of Trump's deal-making, whose presidential victory was built on pure promises. From his ambitious rhetoric during the election campaign to the bitter failure he tastes now, the problem is that he is not the strongman president he tries to project.

It is a tough task to be president of a divided America. Trump's travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries remains held up by federal courts. There are many other yet-to-be delivered promises waiting for the Trump administration. After the failure of the healthcare bill, Trump said he would start going "very very strong" for big tax cuts and tax reform. Nonetheless, many analysts have already cast doubt about his ability to negotiate his policies, as he still needs to bridge many of the same divergences that paralyzed the attempted overhaul of the ACA.

What's worse, less than 100 days since Trump entered the White House, people are already discussing how to end his presidency. It may not be that simple though. Now Trump's top priority is to learn the art of building consensus that he failed to do in the healthcare fiasco, and he has to make compromises with the current American political dynamics.

As for China, it needs to prepare to deal with a "weak" US president - tough in words but slow in deeds. The political setbacks Trump encounters within his country may exert a negative impact on his diplomacy.

It is time that China has more leverage to deal with challenges coming from the US and more responsibilities are placed on China to further advance this relationship.

Given the scope and sheer amount of problems between the two, it tests China's diplomatic wisdom to manage both their commonalities and differences. The US has a different political climate now from it used to have, and we need to be more patient with Trump.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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