An early assessment of the Trump administration’s China policy: certainty and uncertainty

DA Wei1

(1.Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations)

【Abstract】The incoming Trump administration’s strategy toward China can be predicted with both certainty and uncertainty. The certainty mainly comes from the United States strategic environment in which the policy will be implemented, Trump’s view of China’s strategic position, and the goal Trump hopes to achieve, as well as approaches he will adopt; while the uncertainty and unpredictability mainly lie in changes in the U.S. political dynamics and evolvement as Trump turns his personal ideas into concrete strategy and policies of the United States government. The interaction of the elements of both certainty and uncertainty will decide the Trump administration’s future strategy toward China at least in the short run.

【Keywords】 the United States diplomacy; China-U.S. relations; presidential election; Trump; strategy toward China;


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    [1]. ① Evan Osnos, “President Trump’s First Term,” The New Yorker, available at; For related research by Michael G. Krukones, see Michael G. Krukones, Promises and Performance (University Press Of America, 1984); for PolitiFact’s tracking of Obama campaign promises, see [^Back]

    [2]. ① The quotes of Trump’s remarks are all compiled according to his public speeches during the campaign. Please refer to the compilation of remarks by the East-West Center of the U.S. concerning Asia during the Trump campaign. Taiwan [^Back]

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    [5]. ① David Lampton, “Paradigm Lost,” National Interest, Fall 2005, pp. 67–74. [^Back]

    [6]. ② For the content of this debate, please refer to Tao, W. Contemporary International Relations (现代国际关系), (1): 19–28 (2016). [^Back]

    [7]. ③ For example, Michael Pillsbury, The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016) [^Back]

    [8]. Republican Platform 2016, available at[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf [^Back]

    [9]. ① Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker and Simon Denyer, “Trump’s Taiwan Phone Call Was Long Planned, Say People Who Were Involved,” The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2016. [^Back]

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This Article


CN: 11-1170/C

Vol 30, No. 06, Pages 9-19+5

December 2016


Article Outline


  • 1 Certainty: Trump’s strategic vision and implementation environment
  • 2 Uncertainty: from strategic assumptions to specific policies
  • 3 Conclusion
  • Footnote