China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 10, 2016
Executive Summary: The United States has just undergone an exceedingly ugly election campaign. It has elected the highly controversial Donald Trump. For many dissatisfied Americans, Trump was not necessarily better. But voting for Hillary was definitely not better. Of the two, they chose Trump. Trump may have allowed America to experience a catharsis, replete with Internet era flame wars. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, this marks the beginning of an era of uncertainty and instability.
Full Text Below:
Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States. The anxiety that gripped the United States and the world prior to the election has finally ended. But even greater anxiety lies ahead. How will the United States heal its wounds? How will the world avoid falling into disarray? The challenges facing Trump have only just begun.
Trump has gone from New York's Fifth Avenue to Washington, DC's Pennsylvania Avenue. He has gone from business tycoon to the world's most powerful political leader. A year and a half ago, before he announced his candidacy, nearly all the experts thought he was a flash in the pan. Who knew he would defeat 16 other candidates within his own party and become the Republican Party challenger to the highly-connected, highly credentialed Hillary Clinton? Before the election, his poll numbers rarely exceeded those of Hillary Clinton. Nearly 70% of all respondents believed he would lose. The US mainstream media almost unanimously predicted that the United States would elect its first female president. Instead Trump became the first president of the United States never to have held public office or served in the military.
The mainstream media and experts were staggered. Voters found not just the White House in the hands of the Republican Party, but also the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Trump Era has arrived. What's next?
Trump often shocked people with his language. He put people down, only to undermine his own image. He became a rarity in United States elections. His exchanges with opponents often ended with personal attacks. The United States has long sent observers abroad to evaluate other nations' elections. Who knew this time the United States would become the object of foreign observation and evaluation? If Trump fails to change his “enfant terrible” manner, he will continue undermining the image of the United States.
Fortunately in his victory speech, he began to use more elegant rhetoric to refer to his opponents. He stressed the need for humility, gratitude, and unity. He began to heal the nation's wounds. Nevertheless many of his policies remain chaotic and unclear. For example, he advocates the abolition of Obamacare. But tens of millions of low-income families in the United States depend on Obamacare. Can he really end it? Some of his political proposals are highly unusual. He would build a wall along the United States Mexico border to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants. He would withdraw US military protection for Japan. He would review and even terminate agreements with foreign countries. Just what the future holds has become a matter of concern.
Take the reassessment of military alliances for example. If Japan is worried about its own security, it may begin large-scale rearmament. This could lead to an arms race in Northeast Asia. Is this something the United States wants to see? If the THAAD anti-missile system is re-evaluated, how will South Korea react? Will it increase its military buildup? When faced with North Korea and Mainland China, will Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons? What will the world look like then?
The relationship between the United States and Mainland China is another concern. The Obama administration's "Asia-Pacific rebalancing" strategy was Hillary Clinton's brainchild. This strategy would prevent trade protectionism. Therefore it proposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to exclude Mainland China. It would reestablish the United States' role in the Western Pacific, especially in the South China Sea, to suppress PLA military action. Under Trump, the TPP would be terminated. The "Asian-Pacific rebalancing" strategy would become unsustainable. A Trump administration and Beijing might need to reach a new consensus. Are not the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and other nations adjusting their China policies?
Trump wants Japan and South Korea to spend more on their own defense. Will Taiwan have to spend more on national defense in the future? Trump opposes United States intervention in international affairs. How will he view the Taiwan Strait issue? He and Russian President Putin are buddy buddy. Syria and other Middle East problems may take a turn for the better. What kind of relationship will he develop with Xi Jinping? Will it be like the one President Nixon developed with Mao Zedong? How will this affect Taiwan? Taiwan cannot take these matters lightly.
Polls show that 85% of Europeans do not believe Trump will "do the right thing in international affairs". But election rhetoric does not necessarily reflect reality. Election rhetoric does not necessarily represent policy direction. When Reagan ran for president, he vowed to resume diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. But once he took office, he signed the August 17 Communiqué which did great harm to Taiwan. Bush Jr. criticized Beijing during his first campaign speech on foreign policy. He called Mainland China a "strategic competitor". But once Bush became president, he visited the Mainland China more frequently than any other president. In 2008, the United States elected Barack Obama, its first black president. He garnered considerable international praise. After taking office less than a year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But before his two terms were up, he has spread flames of war all over the globe. Refugees and terrorist attacks were everywhere. His halo as a peacemaker was thoroughly tarnished.
The United States has just undergone an exceedingly ugly election campaign. It has elected the highly controversial Donald Trump. For many dissatisfied Americans, Trump was not necessarily better. But voting for Hillary was definitely not better. Of the two, they chose Trump. Conservative voters in the United States are fed up with Hillary's liberalism. They look forward to the return to traditional values. They have pinned their hopes on Trump.
Trump may have allowed America to experience a catharsis, replete with Internet era flame wars. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, this marks the beginning of an era of uncertainty and instability.