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posted on 31 January 2017

President Trump vs. President Xi

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The Trump era has begun in America.

As the given leader of the "free" world, President Trump not only must work and compete with the leaders of the rest of the world, especially China's Xi and Russia's Putin (Three New Kingdoms), but also will be compared with them by international standards. It is a totally new level of competition and measurement for Donald Trump - Can he handle it?

In this post, I will highlight the challenges from China's Xi to President Trump. In my next weekly post, I will do the same, but replacing China's Xi with Russia's Putin.

1. Introduction

The most important bi-lateral relationship in today's world is unquestionably U.S.-China, the two largest economies in the world. As a Chinese-American, I am obligated to do my best to help the wavering relationship stay on the right track all the time. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what I have attempted to do over the past decade, chiefly with my pen, with more than 300 articles and three books published. My entire school of thought is well summarized in my new book: American Democracy.

I voted for Trump. More importantly, I hope my numerous pro-Trump publications (e.g. Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vs. Deng Xiaoping) made a difference in the 2016 elections.

Now, Donald Trump is in the White House. I sincerely wish him well. For more, read: Donald Trump 2.0.

2. President Trump and America

President Trump faces monumental challenges, both at home and abroad. Worse yet, they are related, because the world has never been more inter-connected than now, from jobs to politics. Worse still for America, we face the fiercest competition over the past seven decades, with the most formidable competitor being China. Worst of all, China's system (i.e. state capitalism) appears to be slightly better than ours. For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government (Version 3).

3. President Trump vs. President Xi

Like President Trump, President Xi faces monumental challenges, both at home and abroad. Unlike President Trump, President Xi has demonstrated both his vision and ability of meeting the challenges. The latest example is his speech at Davos (President Xi's speech to Davos in full). Below is the conclusion of his speech.

Anybody reasonably intelligent should be impressed by this speech: its worldliness, coherence, and practicality. It must be emphasized that the speech reflects not only a grand worldly vision, but also a reality China has been pursuing over the past three decades at least.

Does President Trump have a comparable worldly vision like that? Maybe, but he has yet to publish it! The only thing Donald Trump has demonstrated so far is his ability to win the American Presidency by appealing to the American electorate!

To become the American President, Donald Trump only needed to convince enough Americans, which he did (thanks to the Electoral College). To truly lead today's world, President Trump must earn the respect from the rest of the world, in fierce competition with the other world leaders like China's Xi and even Russia's Putin, which he has yet to do.

Will President Trump be up to the task of truly leading the world? I hope so!

4. "America First" vs. "China First"

Unlike President Trump, who has chosen to emphasize "America First", President Xi need not emphasize "China First". Why not? China's global strategy, over the three decades at least, has always been "China First", implicitly. The image below highlights the point.

In other words, the over-loaded slogan of "America First" (as part of "Make America Great Again") might have helped Donald Trump win the American Presidency, but President Trump should stop using the same slogan for two main reasons:

  1. "My country first" is default for most, if not all, countries, other than America, until now.
  2. It implicitly cedes America's world leadership to the next country in line: China.

China is already the de facto world economic leader for one key reason: It is the largest creditor in the world, including to both America and Europe. Now, with President Trump looking inward, and with China's demonstrated vision and practice, as highlighted in Xi's Davos speech, China will be the world economic leader!

5. American Presidency vs. Chinese Presidency

One key criterion for the success of an American President is whether he gets re-elected, resulting in something properly labelled as "getting re-elected ad nauseam", which has proven to be hugely damaging to America. For example, in today's America, it means not only playing good politics over bad economics and bad foreign policies, but also war! For more, read: Three Worst American Terrorists: JFK, GWB, and BHO!

Will President Trump be different from most, if not all, of his predecessors, in terms of "getting re-elected ad nauseam"? I hope so!

In contrast, the Chinese Presidency is an earned kingship for 10 years (Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years), which means, minimally, President Xi need not play good politics over bad economics and bad foreign policies throughout his entire 10-year tenure!

The bar for measuring the greatness of an American Presidency is very low (Let's Redefine the American Presidency, Now (Version 3)!), especially in today's America after two consecutive bad Presidents in George W. Bush and Barack Obama (Correctly Assessing President Obama). President Trump can, and must, easily out-perform both of them. But will that be good enough for America in today's competitive world? I hope so!

President Trump, be truly great, by international standards!

6. Brain power: China vs. America

Once again, China's political system is slightly better than America's, in my humble opinion. Very importantly, behind China's astronomical rise over the past three decades is a large number of visionary entrepreneurs. Jack Ma is a prominent example.

Have you seen any American speak that way? I have not!

In comparison, I believe I, an American, have such a sound worldview that few Chinese and even fewer Americans can possibly match. Better yet, it is well documented in my new book: American Democracy. Read it and judge for yourself!

7. Closing

President Xi is a proven world leader, while President Trump has a long way to go to prove himself as a good American President as well as a true world leader, beyond what's automatically given to an American President.

Not only do I wish President Trump well, I have also spelled out the path to greatness for him (Donald Trump 2.0). But will he listen? We will have a very good indication after his first 100 days in office.

Stay tuned for my next weekly: "President Trump vs. President Putin" ...

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