Picking Branstad as US ambassador to China a part of Trump's China strategy

Nominating Terry Branstad as the new US ambassador to China is an important part of the general strategy adopted by US President Donald Trump to remedy his hostile remarks and behaviors against Beijing during his campaign, according to an American expert.

Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan studies at the American Enterprise Institute, made the remarks during a recent interview with the Sino-US.com.

Auslin said that the nomination took place when Trump's telephone call with Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen, his public defiance against the "one China" principle and the appointment of hawkish Peter Navarro as his trade adviser angered China, increasing tensions between the two countries, adding that the appointment is welcomed by Beijing because of Branstad's good personal relationship with Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping and his support for developing the trade ties between the two countries.

Branstad, a former Iowa governor, is described by Beijing as an "old friend" of Chinese President Xi. He first traveled to China in 1984, and hosted Xi, then a county leader, during Xi's first trip to the US the following year. Their friendship has since grown, and Branstad has visited China multiple times.

In Auslin's opinion, with the slowdown of the Chinese economic growth, if US President Trump does something to increase trade frictions with China, it might cause more problems for the Chinese economy, which would in turn harm the economic interest of the US. Auslin argued that Trump should see this issue with a strategic view that will affect the Asian and the global economic system. At the same time, Trump must keep the US commitment to his Asian allies to make a strategic balance in the region, where China is not the only focus of the US. What's more, when making China policy, Trump should also take the trade relations between China and South American and African nations into consideration, according to Auslin.

The expert is not optimistic about Asia's future development, saying that war risks, territorial disputes and economic slowdown may lead to instability in the region. He also said that Asia is not like the European Union as a united bloc as differences between China, Japan and India raise the possibility of conflict in the region. A decline in working-age population is also a problem for Asian countries including China, Japan and South Korea, Auslin noted. So, Auslin concluded the US should grasp the opportunity to maintain a strong military presence in Asia. He also believes withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership will harm the interests of US allies in Asia. The US should lead the creation of a trade agreement in Asia and regain economic leadership in the region, he added.

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