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Trump's Actions Speak Louder than His Words: Reversal of Trump's China Policy After Assuming the Presidency

Abstracts


This paper asks whether Donald Trump is likely to act tough on China as he signaled during his campaign for the U.S. presidency. According to evidence presented in this paper, I argue that the Trump administration has adopted a more moderate approach after assuming power for two reasons. First, Trump did not base his past harsh rhetoric on facts; therefore, there is no foundation to support a containment strategy against China. Second, antagonizing China in economic affairs may create unintended consequences for the U.S., which may harm the U.S. domestic economy and his odds of winning a second term. In the South China Sea, however, Trump will continue with a tougher stance, but refrain from further escalation because backing down on security issues will signify his cowardice, which will generate domestic audience costs. As a result, the likelihood of starting a trade war, currency war, or military showdown in East Asia under Trump is low.

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