<UBO Opinion: The Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Davos this year smiling like the proverbial Cheshire cat in full knowledge that the bumbling and fumbling of Donald Trump’s ideologically driven amateurs was likely to continue indefinitely. Observing the events of the last weekend, Xi’s smile has by now turned into a broad grin, knowing that – as expected - Trump has ignored the logical-thinkers in the White House while strengthening the positions of such hard-right ideologues as Steve Bannon. Probably well-deserving of his reputation as a major éminence grise in the Trump throne room, Bannon’s influence grows while other officials with immensely greater knowledge of security and intelligence matters have been relegated to lesser status. It also appears that neither Democrats nor moderate Republicans have the power to save themselves – and the country – from this wrong-headed path strewn with ill-advised tweets and executive orders that tear at the fabric of the nation.
Commentary for Newsweek magazine by Isabel Hilton, Jan 31, 2017
Three days before Donald Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th president of the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping stood on the main stage at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos and alluded to Charles Dickens. It was, Xi told the gathering of the global business and policy elite, “the best of times and the worst of times.” The Chinese president then delivered an uncompromising defense of globalization, despite acknowledging its flaws. It had, he said, “powered global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilization, and interactions among people.”
Five days later, Trump made it as clear as possible that he did not share Xi’s enthusiasm for international free trade deals. On January 23, the new president signed an order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the hard-won trade deal negotiated under President Barack Obama. The TPP would have created a trade pact with 12 countries, including Japan, Peru and Vietnam, that together would have represented 40 percent of the global economy. The deal excluded China, and many in Washington saw it as a way of containing China’s regional dominance.
In Beijing, Xi will likely have reacted to Trump’s move to withdraw from the TPP with mixed feelings. While the decision delivered a significant blow to the era of free trade, Xi would no doubt have celebrated the demise of a deal designed in part to hem in his nation’s vast engine of trade.