Additional visa restrictions further discredit embattled Trump administration
Hamzah Rifaat Hussain
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 9, 2018. /Xinhua

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 9, 2018. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Hamzah Rifaat Hussain is a former visiting fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, and currently serves as assistant researcher at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

With just a month left for its term to expire, the Trump administration issued additional visa restrictions on senior Chinese officials on December 22. These measures are desperate and mirror the current plight of the Trump administration which stands discredited, lacking widespread appeal and facing an imminent exit as just a month is left before the Biden administration assumes office. There is little need for seasoned analysis or expert opinions to confirm that these latest restrictions are nothing more than diversionary tactics in what has been a largely divisive and controversial tenure in office since 2016.

Currently however, the administration stands isolated given that legal avenues to contest the elections have either been closed or exhausted. Then comes the inability to resuscitate a pandemic stricken economy with little being done to repair fractured societies domestically as well.

With few answers and dwindling domestic support, the most appropriate modus operandi is to launch campaigns, issue directives and castigate Beijing to display a hyper-nationalist stance of an American leadership which in truth, does not exist on the international stage.

Many Western governments are pursuing economic cooperation with China. Unlike countries such as Germany for example, Washington D.C. continues to add dozens of Chinese companies to its black list, which has little impact on its own policies aimed at stimulating domestic growth or the formulation of comprehensive economic bailout strategies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf has contemplated further restrictions by augmenting the threat from the Chinese government despite repeated calls from the latter to deescalate and negotiate. There is no evidence to suggest that predatory business tactics are being employed by the companies blacklisted, yet a broader ban is being contemplated based on Wolf's statement to the Heritage Foundation. Paradoxically, U.S. apparel makers have criticized a broader ban as impossible to enforce.



There is no let-up in such denials and contradictions which has only isolated the U.S. on the international stage. Reducing the validity of American visas to members of the CPC to just a month has little to do with tackling China's rise as a perceived threat, but will only sow greater trust deficits among the senior leaderships of both countries.

The incoming Biden administration may reverse such draconian measures and pursue rapprochement with Beijing, knowing fully well that Trump's provocations have been a contributing factor towards China's disillusionment. The lack of merits towards Trump's moves also allow for independent pundits, experts and analysts to conclude that peace with China is necessary with coexistence critical for sustainable peace and stability globally.

With soft power initiatives being suspended, avenues for academic exchanges in jeopardy and constant castigation of China without factual grounds, the Trump administration stands increasingly exposed. Economic figures and growth projections also indicate widespread pessimism for even Trump's most die-hard supporters who were initially adamant that his economic policies would revive the American economy.

Today's U.S. confronts severe pressure in its infrastructure and job markets, an alarming state of relative poverty and widespread inequality largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also a lack of strategic vision regarding economic recovery. What has been witnessed is pomposity over this misguided belief that the U.S. will prevail internationally and domestically. None of that has happened.

Hence, this latest move of imposing visa restrictions in the final month of a discredited Trump administration is nothing short of desperation to leave an impression of nationalism on the way out. To Trump's disadvantage however, the current global environment is defined by access to information, cross examination techniques to check the veracity of statements made and high praise for quality leadership which focuses on multilateralism, cooperation and peaceful coexistence.

There is a growing realization globally that these tactics of targeting China are signs of insecurity instead of anything solid, concrete and tangible. The Trump administration simply has no answers.

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