AN INSIGHT INTO THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY, CHINA AND ASEAN

What is Donald Trump Doing? 

So much resistance to Trump; but he delivers. One might not like it, nevertheless he is delivering what he promised. Donald Trump has dramatically reshaped Washington’s role in national and global affairs, amid of torrent of action, disruption and protest, he moves on trade, immigration and foreign policy have honored his campaign promises. His first signature on the paper – removing the US from TPP, presents a consequence it weakens America’s strategic-economic position in East Asia. Unless the Trump administration presents a strategy that can create the kind of economic opportunity and influence that the TPP would have generated, the decision may effectively leave the field of action to China. Why is Trump doing this? Is he going to make Murica great again by hating China despite the fact his inauguration “Make America Great Again” caps were made in China, just right before his eye-popping introduction policy of 45% tariff on China imported goods?

President Donald Trump holds up the executive order on withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017.

Arguably, Trump is massively in debt to the Chinese government, himself, and also the US Government. His general argument has been that the US is too deeply in debt to China, and because of that China has been able to manipulate the US. Question: Does Trump really concern about American businesses or is he just being selfish and manipulative to his business? We do not know the true underlying reason for Trump’s obsessively resenting China, but some examples show that it may his own massive personal debt that he owes to Chinese lenders. For instance, one property in New York City part-owned by Trump carries a $950 million debt on a loan that was cobbled together by Goldman Sachs that’s partially financed by the Bank of china. Trump’s business relationship with China is way far deeper than we realize, his actions do not exactly align with his hawkish rhetoric. He has tried repeatedly to land big real estate deals in China with state-run Chinese companies as partners, including bidding to build Guangzhou’s tallest skyscraper with what is now – China’s biggest real estate company, Evergrande. ICBC is also one of the largest tenants of Trump Towers. Apart from these vague personal underling reasons,  Trump also comes out with some valid and legit reasons why he resents China – China is devaluing their currency and using the US as a piggy bank to rebuild China, China does not respect treaties such as creating an unfair trade with the US after joining the WTO in 2001, and also for some other military purposes.

How It Affects SEA Developing Countries?

America is great. They have all the resources, technology, people, land, everything. Trump is going for protectionism, which only focuses internally on consolidating economy in America by moving back all manufacturing industries overseas to the US, no trading or significantly decreasing the trading between countries. The US is big enough that they can make a living selling things to themselves, but small countries need to trade, like New Zealand. And of course, some other developing countries are eager to corporate with the US, even the third largest economy, Japan, as a developed country.

Although Beijing does not gloat about the good news, it definitely leaves China a great position to assume a leadership role as the leading proponent for regional integration in the region. It is foreseeable that Chinese is being more vocal and proactive in advocating for regional trade agreements centered on the Chinese economy by pursuing its own geostrategic economic agenda by creating regional institutions and programs in an effort to expand its international role. TPP developing member countries such as Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam are eager to have stronger ties with the US, as it is one of the big players of the world. Scrapping the TPP is likely to bolster support for Chinese regional trade regimes. Some countries such as Singapore and Philippines are already shifting toward the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. China is marching in to Malaysia, we can see the business and political relationships are growing astonishingly. Chinese real estate corporations are secretly building their ghosts cities in Malaysia, the high-speed train partnership, and politically China’s economic largesse to Malaysia to bail out Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s beleaguered 1MDB state investment fund scandal, these are the auspices that China is very likely consolidating its economic power in Malaysia, and not to mention other South East Asian countries are also experiencing the same dynamic generated by this world big player.

Why Malaysia?

Chinese big wave in ASEAN has caught western economic and foreign policy experts off guard. Everything about China is out of expectation – No one expects that the “sick man of Asia” would rise like a phoenix today; former colonial powers and even New York are chasing after Chinese tourists dollars, and jaw dropping transformation in technologies that China is able to produce and independently send humans into space and plan to have a permanent Chinese space station soon. And now, with all the Asian buddies, it is creating a new world in Asia.

Greenland Group, has acquired a plot of prime waterfront land in Iskandar Malaysia for RM600 million for a mixed integrated development.

China will feature prominently in Najib Razak’s T50 transformation programme, and Chinese wave of investment will act as a lifeline to Malaysia’s stuttering economy. One of the significant projects is the Kuala Lumpur – Kelantan railway project, it seems like China is targeting on less developed East Coast states, and this is one of the largest public undertakings in Malaysia. It potentially create tremendous socio-economic benefits and help reduce the poverty rate. With political matters and geopolitical strategy, China is transforming a part of the world with excitement and will likely take over the big brother US, or be on an equal footing. Malaysia has the best geographic location, surrounded by natural resources, and most importantly Malaysians of Chinese descent will likely facilitate the growth of China economic power due to their cultural understandings and languages advantages. It is less likely that China would intervene politics in Malaysia, the political favor is merely showing their efforts in consolidating the commercial relationship between China and Malaysia. Rather, China is marching in to developing countries that offer ease to generate more income to benefit themselves as well as those who offer the convenience to China, creating a win-win fruitful partnership.

 

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