Donald Trump's unwarranted attacks on China a serious worry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 August, 2015, 4:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:31am

Donald Trump continues to confound conventional notions of political credibility. Poll after poll stretches his lead among Republican voters as their preferred choice to run for the White House next year. They don't seem to mind an abrasive, unpresidential image shaped by unsavoury remarks about migrants, offence to women or insultingly undiplomatic criticism of China.

The election is more than a year away. By then, assuming he remains a candidate, conventional wisdom may prevail, in that he may finally come to be regarded as unelectable.

Meanwhile, his poll numbers have prompted reflection on the mood of the American people. Those numbers are attributed to empathy among conservatives who feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. These voters seem unconcerned whether a real estate developer with no political experience, who has seen four of his enterprises slide into bankruptcy, should be trusted to run the nation's business.

Trump's campaign motto, "Make America great again", seems to tap into their sentiment. It is a reminder of the slogan of former president (1981-89) Ronald Reagan, now a Republican hero - "making the American people believe in themselves again". The perceived decline of American power and influence is reminiscent of those times, too, when it was shaped by defeat in Vietnam, the humiliation of the Iran embassy hostage debacle and the power of the Soviet Union.

Even ridicule of Trump's credentials is evocative of doubts that a former actor in B-grade westerns could restore America's prestige. But Reagan had already served two terms as governor of California.

Perhaps the biggest worry is Trump's encouragement to blame China for America's economic woes, as well as for the recent global stocks sell off. If, instead, he helped them understand that Washington's policies were instrumental, for example the printing of money to flood markets, his candidature would be worthwhile for that reason alone.