According to a former Obama official, Donald Trump and his administration officials believed that their negotiations with China would go over so well that the country would erect statues to honor their efforts reports Business Insider.
Ryan Hass, who was the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, recently shared with the Insider the anecdote during an interview about his new book, “Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence”
Hass shares that in 2016 he headed to Trump Tower in the days following the 2016 election to brief the incoming administration on the US’s China policy.
“The Trump administration had just been elected, and they were refusing to receive any briefings from the Obama administration. They sort of said they got it, they know what they need to know, they have a plan,” Hass said.
“The president and Susan Rice were pretty adamant that they receive a briefing on China,” he said. “And the instructions that we had were not to put any spin on the ball, not to try to persuade them of anything, just to give them the facts so that they knew what they would be inheriting.”
Hass shared how Trump officials responded to the briefing.
“We got about five minutes into explaining how we’d gotten to where we were when the person across the table just put his hand up and said: ‘We got it. We’ve heard enough. We know what we need to know. And the problem with you guys, you Obama guys, is that you don’t understand that the United States and China are locked into an existential struggle, that if the United States doesn’t win there may not be any United States in 50 or 100 years, and so we have to do everything that we can to prevail, and when we do, there will be statues built in our honor.'”
Early in his presidency, Donald Trump pushed a trade war levying high tariffs on Chinese goods. He also advanced restrictions and sanctions on China through both the Justice and State Departments.
Beijing imposed its own sanctions in January on over two dozen Trump officials. Those officials included John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Steve Bannon.
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In early 2020 as the novel coronavirus spread Trump repeatedly publicly blamed the virus outbreak on China. He referred to the virus as the “China virus” and “Kung Flu.”
“While there are no statues to be found, the Trump administration did succeed in erecting barriers to an Asia-Pacific strategy that can best achieve the US’s strategic objectives of economic fairness and human rights, addressing transnational challenges such as climate change and pandemics while mitigating risks of conflict,” Steven Okun, a senior advisor at McLarty Associates, who hosted Hass’ book launch.
Hass stated that he was shocked by the Trump official’s claim that China would erect statues in honor of Trump and his administration.
The comment, he stated, “provided an early indication that there would be a change, a pretty sharp shift in the way the United States would approach China.”