An Ally Graded Trump’s Handling Of China — And The Report Card Is Rough

Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister, and an expert on China, reviews the U.S.-China relationship in a powerful article that will run in the December issue of Proceedings. He begins and ends politely, but in between delivers a pretty damning assessment of the Trump Administration’s performance. Worth keeping in mind as Trump heads into the G-20 on Friday and Saturday.

Among the demerits he assigns:

  • “The U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Commission is a godsend for Beijing, which has long found this to be the single-most problematic multilateral institution.”
  • “Similarly, the U.S. attack on the World Trade Organization has enhanced China’s standing there despite China’s general reluctance to embrace fundamental global trade liberalization or fully open its own markets.”
  • “U.S. criticism of the U.N. itself has enabled China to look like a responsible global stakeholder in the multilateral system.”

He goes on to ask 10 tough questions of the Americans. One of the hardest is when he wonders aloud what reason other countries would have to buy into the nationalistic American stance laid out by Vice President Pence in a speech last month.

 “Pence’s address was consciously and eloquently couched in terms of U.S. interests and values,” writes Rudd. “But it made no appeal to the international community’s common interests and values . . . . Instead, the world has seen the current administration walk away from a number of critical elements of the order constructed by its predecessors over seven decades (human rights, multilateral trade regimes, climate change, the International Criminal Court, and U.N. aid agencies) under the rubric of the nationalist call of ‘America First.’”

I’m told a link for the article will be up on USNI’s website tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.