Donald Trump can be expected to give a “much warmer” response to China’s “One belt, One Road” trade initiative than President Obama, according to a top adviser to the U.S. president-elect.
James Woolsey, a senior adviser to Trump on national security and intelligence, also referred to the Obama administration’s rejection of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a ‘strategic mistake,’ in an opinion piece published in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post Thursday.
“It is widely accepted in Washington today that the Obama administration’s opposition to the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was a strategic mistake and I hope that the next administration’s response to the Belt and Road initiative will be much warmer,” he wrote.
Woolsey also said, “We will not become isolationist.”
On the campaign trail, Trump lambasted China and threatened to declare the country a currency manipulator, but analysts said that an American about-turn on the AIIB would be viewed as a sign of goodwill in Beijing, the Post reports.
Former Chinese vice-commerce minister Wei Jianguo told the Post that despite Trump’s rhetoric, he might be open to China-backed investment programs, and that if he embraced the AIIB more deals could follow. “There is huge potential for cooperation between China and the U.S,” he said.
Washington’s attempt to squash the AIIB was considered a sign of mistrust in Beijing and an attempt to stymie China’s regional economic power. The floundering Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP), which froze China out of a deal that would have included the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Vietnam, was regarded similarly.
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If Trump delivers on his promise to junk the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has described as a “death blow” for American manufacturing, analysts say it would also play well in Beijing.
Woolsey is not alone in criticizing Obama’s rejection of the AIIB. In 2015 former U.S. secretary of treasury Larry Summers called the U.S. opt out a “failure of strategy and tactics,” and Clinton Administration alumnus Madeleine Albright said the U.S. had “screwed up” in its unsuccessful efforts to dissuade other countries from supporting the bank, Fortune reported.