Trump’s Foreign Policy Wrecking Ball Leaves Big Opening For China

Donald Trump is slashing funding for the United Nations. His new envoy, Nikki Haley, entered the institution by threatening other countries that don’t do the will of the United States. China is no doubt watching with glee.

A draft executive order proposes 40 percent cuts in U.S. funding for international programs that feed the hungry and provide humanitarian aid — among other slashes to the U.N. budget. Richard Gowan, an expert with the European Council on Foreign Relations, said:

Trump may not know this, but he is fueling a growing narrative among diplomats and U.N. officials that the U.S. is ceding its leadership at the U.N. to China.

Not that Trump and Haley are necessarily on the same page. Foreign Policy notes that she probably wasn’t even consulted before the drafting of the proposal, given her praise for the programs that the order would cut. As a matter of fact, Haley seems oblivious to her boss’ determination to withdraw from the world. She entered  UN headquarters on her first day by coming out swinging to the press. First came this threat to other countries:

For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly.

And then this:

This administration is prepared and ready to have me go in and look at the UN and everything that’s working. We’re going to make it better. Anything not working, we’ll fix, and anything that seems obsolete and not necessary, we’re going to do away with.

That statement reflects an outsized view of the power that the Trump administration is apparently intent on giving up. The U.S. no longer owns the bully pulpit if it’s going to cut off the funds. If anyone changes what happens at the U.N., it’ll probably be China.

China is casting its net around the world for opportunities to pour money and influence into other countries. While much of China’s early investment was in developing countries, the country has expanded its efforts over the last decade. According to Financial Times:

In barely a decade, Chinese OFDI has gone from virtually nothing to more than $100bn year, launching it into the top three exporters of direct investment globally.

Europe in particular has welcomed the Chinese largesse with open arms…

Uh-oh. Not only that, but President Xi Jinping has been cultivating an image as the anti-Trump. At a recent speech to the UN in Geneva, he stated:

Trade protectionism and self-isolation will benefit no-one… We will build a circle of friends across the whole world.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres had a response:

[It’s] very reassuring to see China assuming such a clear leadership in multilateralism in today’s world.

Alarmed yet? Human rights organizations are. Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch said:

It is unfortunate that Chinese President Xi was given an obsequious red carpet treatment at the UN today while NGOs with concerns about his dismal rights record were kept out.

Trump is apparently oblivious to the threat China poses to American world leadership. However, Xi is a man made from the same mold as Trump — opportunistic and full of lies. Here’s his response to the concerns of people like Sophie Richardson:

We always put people’s rights and interests above everything else and we have worked hard to develop and uphold human rights.

Sure. Just like the new POTUS has human rights as his highest priority.

So, what are the rest of us to do? Maybe we should start taking lessons in Chinese.

Feature photo, at G20 meeting in China, by Narendra Modi under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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Deborah Montesano

Deborah Montesano is a longtime political activist and blogger. She learned to fight against impossible odds by living for years in Arizona, but recently relocated to the more progressive-friendly city of Portland, Oregon. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/thepoliticali/ or on Twitter @thepoliticali_1.

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