U.S.-China Relations under Trump: A Reading Round-Up

flag-pins-china-usaWe’re now in Day 3 of reaction pieces to Donald Trump’s election to the presidency (a sentence I never thought I’d write; it’s certainly no secret that I was a strong Clinton supporter), and I don’t expect the spilling of ink to slow anytime soon. My Twitter feed has been full of posts about what a Trump administration will mean for the U.S.-China relationship. Initially they were mostly of the “sky is falling” persuasion; in the second day I started to see more calling for cautious optimism. Some in this second group argued that Trump will temper his campaign rhetoric once in office, while others pointed out that the American government has institutions and checks intended to limit the ability of the president to implement policy unilaterally. We shall see.

There were so many different takes that I started to lose track of them all, then decided that the thing to do was to collect as much as I could find and organize it all here into a massive reading round-up for anyone else interested in this topic, now or in the future. I’m sure I’ve missed stuff—even I can only stand so much time combing through Twitter—and if there’s enough additional material to warrant a second post sometime soon, I’ll pull one together. But for now, here we go.

The Big Picture

  • James Palmer at Foreign Policy had what I believe was the first take on Trump’s victory—I think it was published before I even woke up on Wednesday—a dark and pessimistic article (but not necessarily wrong) with the bold headline “China Just Won the U.S. Election.”
  • “Mr. Trump’s ascendancy to the White House delivers the sharpest blow yet to the forces of globalization that propelled China’s rise,” Andrew Browne writes at the Wall Street Journal.
  • Rob Schmitz of NPR outlined some of the important economic and political issues that could arise between the two countries in a short conversation at Morning Edition.
  • This AP report examines why Trump’s victory is most likely “a mixed blessing” for China on a number of fronts.
  • Scott Kennedy of the Center for International & Strategic Studies has a post at their site in which he outlines the potential points of conflict between the U.S. and China, based on Trump’s campaign statements, but argues “perhaps we should hesitate before concluding that a new era of U.S.-China unmitigated enmity and regional disorder is inevitable.”
  • ChinaFile has a number of features related to Trump’s victory:

The View from China

What This Means for Economics and Trade

  • An instant reaction from Bloomberg—posted very early Wednesday morning—evaluating the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China under Trump.
  • Keith Bradsher of the New York Times examines what a U.S.-China trade war would mean for different industries in the two countries, and the weapons that each side would have in its arsenal.
  • In an opinion piece for Bloomberg, Michael Schuman writes that Trump’s anti-trade sentiments will disrupt the Chinese economy in the short term, but long term work to China’s advantage as domestic competitors to American companies rise up.
  • A Bloomberg report on changes in the Chinese economy over the past eight years indicates that Trump is working from old information.
  • That information presumably comes from Peter Navarro, Trump’s “muse” on China. At Quartz, Josh Horwitz looks at Navarro, who will likely be one of the administration’s top Asia advisors.
  • A short Wall Street Journal article on key economic issues between the two countries.
  • Now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership appears to be dead in the water, China has announced that it will design its own regional free-trade agreements, Reuters reports.
  • Frank Tang and Kristin Huang at the South China Morning Post write that regardless of Trump’s talk, it’s unlikely that the United States Treasury will actually label China a currency manipulator.
  • Alex Frangos at the Wall Street Journal has a look at the currency issue from Beijing’s perspective.
  • Despite worries, some members of the Asian business community don’t see Trump’s election as the doomsday scenario others have predicted, report Simon Denyer and Anna Fifield at the Washington Post.


Note: I have not yet had the chance to listen to these, but want to mark them here for future reference.


  • At Roads & Kingdoms, Robert Foyle Hunwick has an essay on his experience of watching the election returns in a Beijing bar.
  • Nash Jenkins of Time reports on the scene at what was supposed to be the Democrats Abroad victory party in Hong Kong.
  • The U.S.-Taiwan relationship under Trump has gotten very little attention; this China Policy Institute: Analysis post by J. Michael Cole is the only piece I’ve seen on the topic so far.
  • A lighter post from the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, on a Chinese flag-maker’s business in Trump banners.

** My focus here has been on articles and op-eds written since the election results were announced. For a look back at pieces written during the campaign, see this reading list that Graham Webster compiled for Lawfare. I should also note that I exclusively focused on material related to the U.S.-China relationship; there’s also plenty out there on U.S.-Asia more broadly, but I had to draw the line somewhere or risk spending days putting this list together. If you have more posts to recommend, tweet them to me @mauracunningham.**

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