US President Donald Trump in an address to Congress on Tuesday night in Washington DC ran through many of his favorite topics – immigration, jobs, infrastructure, taxes and deregulation. But one of the favorite targets of his campaign – China – was only mentioned once, and followed a general lament over the loss of American manufacturing jobs.
“We've lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we've lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001,” he said.
He did not attack China for things such as supposed currency manipulation or unfair trade practices, as he has done in the past. Nor did he mention the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or China’s role in restraining the country, as he did following the DPRK’s most recent missile launch. The speech focused almost completely on domestic issues; the only significant foreign policy comments came toward the end when he voiced support for NATO. Russia was not mentioned at all.
The speech was notable for its lack of the hallmarks of his usual public appearances – the impulsive attacks and defensiveness that cause many to see him as “unhinged”. It was measured and polished, read from a prepared speech off a teleprompter, rather than off-the-cuff.
Critics have derided him for using public speeches to attack celebrities and go after other issues usually too minor for a US president. This speech contained none of that and instead focused on his recurring theme of “making America great again”. Trump ticked off one domestic policy goal after another, calling for more military spending, infrastructure spending and immigration enforcement, including his wall on the Mexican border.
He wrapped things up by calling for the country to be “bold and daring”.
Whether this means his first year in office mainly will focus on domestic policy, with his usual foreign policy complaints on the back burner, remains to be seen.