China Prefers the Devil They Know Over Someone New
China’s former vice minister of foreign trade, Long Yongtu, said Trump is also “easy to read,” due in no small part to his Twitter habits. “We want Trump to be reelected; we would be glad to see that happen,” The Washington Post reported this week.
“Chinese officials are betting that Trump’s transactional approach to politics might be preferable to a more principle-driven president, whether Democrat or Republican,” according to the Post's source.
A politically-connected source in Beijing told the newspaper that China believes Trump can be bought: “Trump is a businessman. We can just pay him money and the problems will be solved. As long as we have money, we can buy him. That’s the reason why we prefer him to Democrats.”
The political insider added that “Trump isn’t ideologically opposed to China. He doesn’t go on about human rights and Xinjiang and the South China Sea.”
And unlike Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s time in office is not limited to two terms — or any number of terms — after the leader abolished term limits. This means Xi has more time to play with and can hold out in trade negotiations and make more strategic demands or concessions, whereas Trump must score a win within the next four years, if he is re-elected.
“If he retreats for eight, nine months to a year, it’s not a big deal for him, because I think he sees himself as the leader of China for the next 10 or 20 years, if not longer,” Victor Shih, a China expert at the University of California at San Diego, told The Post. “So he’s definitely playing a much longer game than the president of the United States right now.”
Alison Szalwinski, vice president of research at the National Bureau of Asian Research said “there’s a bit of a risk at this point” as Trump seeks re-election “that the Trump administration will kind of settle for a superficial deal to claim a win.”
“That could take the wind out of the sails of talking about longer-term issues in the bilateral relationship,” Szalwinski added.