Can Trump’s America reverse worldwide disapproval?
By George Koo
That the US’ approval rating is down can be directly attributed to President Trump’s ‘America first’ — and to hell with everybody else —approach. It’s no surprise that neighbouring Canada and Mexico, which perhaps know the country best, show the biggest slides in approval of the US.
All other traditional allies of the US – namely western European and Latin American countries, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – also showed declines in US approval of more than 10%.
Trump has not expressed any vision for America or for the world, nor any policy or strategy going forward, other than to increase defense spending. He has said he will make America great again but he hasn’t said anything specific that the public can point to and say “aha, that’s how we are going to get to that greatness.”
President Xi of China, on the other hand, has carefully outlined his domestic and international agenda. Domestically, he wants to leave no one behind and lift those remaining below the poverty line above it. Trump doesn’t care about those living on less than the minimum wage; he just wants to send them back to whichever country they came from.
China has — at last — embarked on pollution abatement and remediation of past environmental damage. Its leadership not only believes in the science behind climate change but is actively taking steps to reverse greenhouses gas emissions.
China shares a common interest with the US in counterterrorism and possesses new weaponry to add to the fight. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), coupled with high-quality security cameras, have enabled China to identify fugitives, criminals and terrorists in real time.
The American military could use such systems in combat zones in the Middle East. The US could also use them to monitor passersby around embassies and scan passengers arriving through airport immigration — a much more practical alternative to enacting blanket bans on travellers from selected countries.
Somebody should be advising Trump that high-end and high-precision manufacturing is the future — not the labour-intensive, low-value processes he is trying to wrestle back to America.
As a matter of fact, there is so much to be gained from the two powers collaborating rather than resorting to pointless confrontation. Clearly, China is determined to make friends globally, one project at a time. Its infrastructure expertise could even help Trump in his bid to make America great.
China is not seeking to win at the expense of the US – and nor should the US look to do so at the expense of China. If both were to cooperate, tensions would ease and the US would likely see its global approval rising again like China’s.
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