A Choice for Nations: Have Course Determined by the USA or Pursue a Course among Equals

In his inauguration speech, president Donald Trump sounded sincere, and perhaps he is being sincere. But some of his views are deluded and misguided.

Said Trump:

From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma denied anyone is stealing from the US. He said America should look at its own wasteful policies, stop spending money on warring and propping up Wall Street, and invest instead in its own people and infrastructure.

In Trump’s quest to make America great again, arises a sign of Trump’s brand of hegemonic imperialism:

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. [italics added]

However, later in his speech, the president says: “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.”

It seems a contradiction. The US will “not seek to impose” but it will determine the course for itself and others? Determine by example?

Within the allowable and accepted scope of US “democracy,” it is fine that Trump determine the course of America, but I cannot accept the he thinks that the US can determine the course of the world — except by example. But that will be an America completely different from what it has been in its history.

US determinism may well have the effect of steering nations away from the US. This has already been apparent during the Obama administration as the Philippines has struck up a new cordial relation with China, and Viet Nam has had friendly talks with China.

The Chinese Path

China has pursued a decidedly different path on the world stage. You do not hear “China first” from the Communist Party hierarchy. On the contrary, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chinese chairman Xi Jinping called for open trade and equality among nations.

Today, mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent. All countries enjoy the right to development. At the same time, they should view their own interests in a broader context and refrain from pursuing them at the expense of others.

We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy to share opportunities and interests through opening-up and achieve win-win outcomes. One should not just retreat to the harbor when encountering a storm, for this will never get us to the other shore of the ocean. We must redouble efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share prosperity.

Xi is advocating an everybody-wins course, a course among equals.

World Opinion

How does Trump’s vision jive with Xi’s vision in the world?

Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, said Xi’s vision and thoughts represent the aspirations of the world community.

“Amid concerns and apprehensions about the future of international order, President Xi Jinping has come to represent the aspirations of the world community.”

“Two initiatives of President Xi need to be talked about here that show that China is taking practical steps to set up a model of development that benefits not just her but also builds win-win partnerships aimed at distributing the fruits of prosperity.”

In US-ally Australia, one newspaper ran a headline: “Donald Trump turns his back on the world.”

At home, Scott Kennedy, deputy director, Freeman Chair in China Studies, at the right-wing Center for Strategic and International Studies offered his analysis:

“I think China’s trying to send a signal that it’s the world’s most responsible stakeholder. The US by contrast is a greater source of anxiety, tensions and volatility.”

  • In the next part: What is Trump signalling about China?
Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.