Niall Ferguson on Sino-US ties: ‘Atmosphere likely to turn chilly on trade issues’
By CGTN’s The Point
“I think there are two issues to focus on. One is still North Korea (DPRK). That problem has not gone away despite the talks that we are seeing between the North (DPRK) and South Korea (ROK),” said Niall Ferguson, bestselling author and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, to CGTN’s the Point with Liu Xin.
He continued, “I think the risk has gone down because of those talks. But there remains a fundamental problem, which is the United States, Trump, has consistently argued that China has to do more to restrain North Korea (DPRK).”
Dr. Ferguson believes it is possible that the bilateral ties between China and the United States could be tightened in 2018. Apart from the DPRK issue, trade is another focus concerning the two.
“There is no question that the Trump administration has up its sleeve some tough new measures directly against Chinese export of steel and aluminum, but also potentially against Chinese investment in US technology,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson believed that President Trump is more attracted to trade war than an actual war. “If one talks to people closed to the President, one gets this strong impression that he doesn’t really want to be a war president in a way for example that George W. Bush, but a trade war president, maybe.”
“The atmosphere is likely to turn rather chilly on trade issues. And I don’t think any of these should be surprised about that. The only surprising thing really is that it takes this long to happen.” Claiming himself a free trader, Dr. Ferguson said he has been opposed to Trump’s protectionist policy and doesn’t expect much good to come of it.
“I think it is going to be very interesting indeed to see what exactly the Trump administration can get by doing this... On trade, Trump is in 2018 going to deliver what he promised in 2016 but spent 2017 just tweeting about it.”
However, Dr. Ferguson cautioned that one has to be very careful about making any prediction about the Trump presidency. Because “we have seen in the course of 12 months, the President can change direction with 140 characters in a single tweet.”
On the security front, Trump accused China of being a revisionist power that “uses technology, propaganda, and coercion to shape a world antithetical to our interests and values” in the US’ new National Security Strategy released at the year-end.
Dr. Ferguson said he doubts very much that President Trump wrote those words. “The National Security Strategy is much more the work of his national security adviser.” But he doesn’t think as well that people should be too surprised that its tone is radically different from the last National Security Strategy, produced for President Obama by Susan Rice, which is remarkably emollient and indeed friendly in its tone towards China.
“After all, Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 in a pretty strongly anti-Chinese way…We’ve kind of come back to where we were in 2016 in the National Security Strategy,” he said.
The Point with Liu Xin is a 30-minute current affairs program on CGTN. It airs weekdays at 9.30 p.m. BJT (1330GMT), with rebroadcasts at 5.30 a.m. (2130GMT) and 10.30 a.m. (0230GMT).