America has chosen a new president. Some of us voted for him, others would have preferred anyone but Donald Trump. Both groups are part of one nation, of which he will be our president.
Outside the United States, Mr. Trump has challenges. His popularity in the U.S. was notoriously hard to measure until actual votes were cast and counted. Polls taken outside the country could not be more clear. Although relatively popular in Russia and China, 85% of Europeans have little or no confidence in Trump to “do the right thing on world affairs,” according to Pew Research. Time will tell if they are right or wrong. His failure would be our failure.
One of the great things about America is we don’t all need to agree. We do need to cooperate. Our democratic system requires us to work with people with whom we have differences. Diversity of opinions can make us strong.
AmCham Shanghai is nonpartisan and works closely with all branches of the U.S. government. If asked, we will give the new administration an accurate and up-to-date picture of the situation American companies face on the ground here in China. That’s our role. The views we express need to be accurate, helpful and constructive. We will continue to advocate our positions even if, as in the case of TPP, we are at odds with the new administration. On China policy questions we can look for common ground and build from there.
Some say Trump is an isolationist and that the burden of America’s leadership abroad has been too heavy to bear. Whether that’s true or not, we need to fix our problems at home. America needs a new plan for the domestic economy, one that recognizes the reality of China and India as massive pools of inexpensive labor. The benefits of trade have not been balanced. If Mr. Trump has a better plan then we should work with it.
As president, Mr. Trump is likely to make strong demands on China for reciprocity. Americans see how prosperous China has become and they are questioning whether this is a reciprocal relationship. Equal treatment is a worthy goal. We all want more market access, a level playing field and greater transparency.
Cross border investment in both directions is a good thing. It creates jobs and builds value. In the case of China is it fair, is it balanced? How level is the playing field? If Chinese companies can acquire media companies in the U.S., businesses like AMC theaters and Dick Clark Productions, then should American companies be able to make media investments here in China? Why shouldn’t American companies be able to make the same kinds of investments in China as Chinese companies are making in America?
American banks and insurance companies have a limited share of the market here in China. AmCham has openly called on China to further open the market and eliminate equity caps. After all, this was the expectation when China joined the WTO. The current administration has been pushing for a Bilateral Investment Treaty that would go a long way toward achieving these goals. Could a Trump administration continue this work?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership in its current form, which AmCham strongly supported, is all but dead. There are those who believe the new administration will be able to renegotiate and get some form of the TPP passed. It wasn’t perfect. The provisions on biologics could be improved, and many were not satisfied with how it handled currency.
On some issues, common ground will be harder to find. On climate change and environmental issues Mr. Trump’s position is squarely at odds with the experts, and with China. Ironically, this has been one of the bright spots in the China relationship under the current administration. Trump is wrong about this and needs to be better advised. It would also be helpful if Mr. Trump would stop talking about foreigners and immigrants in an unhelpful way regardless of his personal views. America’s relationship with China is important. All of us depend on this relationship to continue on the path of open dialogue and cooperation, not hostility and conflict.