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Trump era signals dramatic changes

(Global Times)    11:25, January 21, 2017

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America on January 20. He made an impressive inauguration speech with his unique persona, which has been drawing mixed and complicated reactions domestically and globally.

In presence of three of the four living former presidents, the new president launched a sweeping criticism of the country's domestic and foreign policies over the past decades. He blasted at past policies as failures while describing the scourge of drugs, crime, poverty and unemployment as "the American carnage." He noted that the transfer of power is "not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another," but wrestling power from Washington DC and giving it "back to you, the people."

Mr. Trump slashed out at "a small group in our nation's Capital" for reaping the "rewards of the government" while "the people did not share its wealth." Mr.Trump then raised the standard for himself and his new role as America's top leader in reassuring, "that all changes, starting right here, and right now" and the moment "belongs to you."

Mr. Trump stressed patriotism and reiterated his "America first" doctrine, the main appeal of his campaign rhetoric. He vowed to make American triumph again by formulating trade, tax, immigration and foreign policy decisions that benefit ordinary American citizens.

Regarding foreign policies, Mr. Trump expressed his belief that all nations have the right to put their own national interest first. He said he wants to let America "shine as an example for everyone to follow", rather than imposing the American way of life. He swore to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism "completely from the face of the Earth."

President Trump did not take another swipe at China, nor did he mention Russia or any other nation in his inauguration speech.

Although more carefully phrased, Mr. Trump's inauguration speech did not steer away from his campaign rhetoric, focusing on criticizing the "Washington establishment." He is indeed different, in many aspects, from most of his predecessors.

First of all, President Trump seemed less than gracious to ignore how his predecessors and the political dignitaries attending his inauguration might feel insulted by his blunt criticism. Nor did he seem to care about the anxiety of Congressional representatives who boycotted his swear-in ceremony.

Moreover, the lofty promises the new president made during his 16-minute inauguration speech is indeed a very big one. It remains to be seen if he can keep his ambitious promise throughout his term -- correcting the domestic and foreign policies and the world order he believes to have strayed off track.

Mr. Trump's policy pronouncement prioritizes the imperative domestic need for reinvigorating economic growth and improving the quality of life for Americans. In addressing economic issues, he pointed his finger at foreign trade policies for failing to put "America first."

Mr. Trump indicates that dramatic changes lie ahead for the country's domestic political structure and the global economic order. Some Chinese Internet users even mocked Mr. Trump's version of dramatic changes as a possible US version of the "Cultural Revolution." However, the measures that will be required to achieve the new president's goals have yet to be divulged. With the tremendous balance of power in the US government, it will be interesting to witness if his unique personality and determination will help him turn his goals into reality.

Unlike his predecessors, President Trump did not strike a conciliatory tone to help unite a nation divided by the recent presidential election. Instead, he chose to enjoy his role as the champion of the underdogs, eager to lead them in their fight against Washington elites. The working class goals he has set and his appointments of successful business leaders to his cabinet could prove to be contradictory. His cabinet of billionaires really needs to reach out to ordinary people to better understand their needs.

On the world stage, Mr. Trump will likely align his foreign policy with US corporate interests, blurring the lines of ideology or political values. Frictions between the US and its allies, and trade tensions between the US and China seem inevitable within the four years ahead.

Although Mr. Trump has spent a lot of time talking about China over the past year, his actual China policy has yet to take shape. Definitely, the Trump administration wants to boost exports to China and relocate factories from China back to the US. Taiwan will be merely a bargaining chip for them to put trade pressure on China.

Mr. Trump did not mention universal values in his inauguration speech, but that does not mean his administration will refrain from putting pressure on China. His China policy will hinge on how well he understands the overlapping interests of the world's two largest economies, how their national interests intertwine, and whether he is motivated to change the existing structure with force.

Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will be igniting many "fires" on its front door and around the world. Let's wait and see when it will be China's turn. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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