China—not Russia—has the greatest potential to gain international influence over the long run. China’s goal to become the global superpower runs straight through its overseas development and climate change efforts; exactly where President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint will decrease U.S. influence the most.
Russia dominates our headlines in ways not seen since the Cold War. There are reported ties to the Trump campaign, Kremlin-sanctioned interference in the 2016 elections, silence over Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on anticorruption protesters, and regular trafficking in dangerous false equivalency “whataboutisms.” With all this focus, one could plausibly assume that Russia has the most to gain from the Trump presidency.
That would, however, be a mistake. China is both better positioned and has much more to gain.
U.S. withdrawal from its obligations to the liberal international order—which would be the effect of President Trump’s budget blueprint if passed by Congress—creates unprecedented space for Chinese opportunism. China is poised to replace the United States as global trade leader, and President Trump’s renunciation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has given it an opportunity to strengthen regional trade opportunities that were once available to the United States. It is no secret that China desires even more global influence, a pursuit that, to a certain extent, has been checked by U.S. global leadership. Until now.
Candidate Trump antagonized China during the campaign and has made a habit of eschewing the delicate geopolitical order since his election. Despite some not-so-subtle military hints and the requisite strong words of rebuke from state-run media outlets, China is figuring out how to influence an unpredictable new administration. They have already realized that Jared Kushner is, among myriad other things, the gatekeeper to Mar-a-Lago and the Trump agenda. Chinese diplomats, business people, and party officials (not to mention spies ), are on the lookout for ways to capitalize on the Trump administration’s inexperience and President Trump’s own oversimplified, “us vs. them,” transactional world view.
But China’s long-run triumph will come in terms of its potential to influence global agendas, particularly on climate change and economic development.
In what must be one of the most stunning role reversals in history, China is poised to be a global leader on climate change. Even though the United States is technically still a signatory of the Paris Climate Agreement, it will struggle to meet carbon emissions targets after President Trump dismantles much of the regulatory framework put in place by the Obama administration and guts the Environmental Protection Agency .
This ongoing shift in geopolitical leadership on climate change is confounded by the fact that seemingly no one in the White House, and few Republicans on Capitol Hill, want to acknowledge broadly accepted climate science. China now has all the space it needs to assume global leadership on climate change.
Read more from the source article published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Apr. 6 2017.