And in the meantime, Trump is voluntarily surrendering ground to Beijing on economic, diplomatic, and environmental fronts, opening the door to an even greater global role for China that the country’s own growing military will only reinforce.
In one of his first acts as president, Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade pact that Obama had initiated in the hope of getting regional economies to agree to U.S. rather than Chinese legal, labor, and environmental standards and tariff-free imports.
Eleven countries have signed the TTP, but the pact loses much of its power without American participation. In November 2016, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) warned that Trump abandoning the trade deal “will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers.”
Trump’s promise to effectively quit the Paris Climate Accord, Obama’s signature environmental accomplishment, will have a similar China-emboldening effect. Halting U.S. investment in clean energy technology such as solar and wind will surrender a $1.35-trillion annual world market to China, which is set to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into new green tech over the next few years in a bid to sharply reduce its own, presently sky-high, carbon emissions.