Quiet Diplomacy & Public Posturing: Is Trump using Anti-China narrative and Chinese investment for re-elections?

    01-May-2020   
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Since the Trump-Xi Jinping telephonic conversation, there have been exciting developments where China is increasingly invoked in the US presidential election discourse
 
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President Trump using Anti-China narrative to win American Elections
 
With declining approval ratings, surging unemployment rates and tumbling US economy; President Trump desperately needs scapegoats to build counter-narrative for anti-trump sentiment, which is rising. Thus for this scenario, India should follow former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying that "Quiet diplomacy is far more effective than public posturing."
 
As per the Reuters/IPSOS survey, regarding next US President Elections, done at the end of April 2020, 45%, registered voters preferred Joe Biden, while just 39% said they would choose Trump. 6% is a substantial gap and could be tough for Trump to make up.
 
President Trump often swank about his acceptance among independents. But as per this survey, Biden has a 10-point lead among independent voters, who could be decisive in November's US presidential election.
 
Further to increase President Trump's worries, he seems to be in grave trouble in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New England and many western states. Although, Trump remains a narrow favourite in Florida and Texas and has a clear lead in most of the confederacy states and most mid-western agricultural states.
 
By the end of April 2020 due to COVID19 lockdown, 30.3 million filed for unemployment benefits— representing roughly 18.6% of the US labour force. In the first week of May 2020, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics will publish its official jobs statement for April 2020. In this report, 14% US unemployment rate is expected. Earlier, China International Capital Corporation economists forecasted that the US' unemployment rate might hit a new high, not seen since World War II, of 16 % in late April and May.
 
Because of severe disruptions caused by the spreading coronavirus pandemic, The US economy declined by a whopping 4.8 % in the first quarter of 2020. Further, in the second quarter of 2020, JP Morgan is predicting a 40% decline and Morgan Stanley is predicting a 38% decline. And China International Capital Corporation predicted that the US economy might tumble by 28 % quarter-on-quarter in annualized rate in Q2.
 
Thus to win back voters trust, Trump needs trustworthy blame opportunities to divert the anger/culpabilities caused by COVID19, but there are few on offer except China. He recognises that and therefore, he has picked commotions with China. He desperately needs scapegoats. By impinging China, President Trump is also expecting to bring investments (up to $300 billion) in the US.
 
To achieve PM Modi's vision of making India $5 trillion economy, India needs access to both the US and China market. As per the vision document of making India $5 trillion economy, 60% contribution will come from the service sector, including export of services like IT services. Without proper access to US's service sector (approximately 80% of US GDP) and China's service sector (about 50% of China's GDP), It will be challenging to achieve the target. Further 20% contribution will come from the agriculture sector, and disruption caused by COVID19 in agricultural's global supply chain gives a massive opportunity for the Indian agricultural industry. And both the US and China can be the biggest importers of Indian agricultural products.
 
"There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen." — Vladimir Lenin. Next 10-20 weeks will define the coming decade for India and its economy.
 
(The writer is the Pentland-Churchill fellow for Global Public Policy leadership at New York University (NYU) and University College London (UCL))