The United States, China and Russia:
Relations Between the World’s Great Powers
in the Age of Trump

July 27, 2017
Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Program SynopsisProgram TranscriptVideo

Key Quotations

“China remains enormously dependent on the United States and on the United States’ allies for its sustained economic growth. China is the largest trading partner of most countries in the world. That point is often made. Seldom made is the relevant next point. Most of that trade is in the form of intermediate goods that go to China for final assembly to be put in a box to go to the North America, Japan and Europe.” – Dr. Thomas Fingar

“…We run into a trap when we use concepts and terminology from yesterday to talk about the world of today and tomorrow. The U.S., in my judgment, clearly does not have the influence, the soft power, the attraction that we once did. That’s our fault; that’s not the fault of somebody else. It doesn’t mean that somebody else has got more traction than we do. It reflects the somewhat chaotic, certainly ill-defined structure of the international system…. Shame on us if we don’t seek to take advantage of opportunities to collaborate [with China], which are many, that we don’t address the points of friction before they become more serious tensions or possible military clashes.” – Dr. Thomas Fingar

“The key here is the economic interdependence [between the U.S. and China] and the inability to collaborate on a whole range of transnational issues. China, like the United States, is either a part of every problem or must be a part of any solution on climate change, on water, on globalization, on demographic urbanization, it goes on and on. So we really don’t have any sensible prospect except to cooperate. I haven’t got a clue which way Mr. Trump wants to jump on this.” – Dr. Thomas Fingar

“Maybe to say a word about the U.S.-China relationship and that is, point number one, is it’s very clear that Chinese senior leadership, beginning with Xi Jinping, were hopeful that Donald Trump would win. Secretary Clinton was extraordinarily unpopular with the Chinese senior leadership. She was looked at as the architect of America’s so-called rebalance to Asia.” – Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

“Let me just say something about the Russian attitude to President Trump… They said, ‘You know, we’re very uncertain. Yes, he says nice things, but we don’t know what that means.’ And one friend who’s served in the Ministry of Defense said, ‘Yes, he’s saying these nice things, but he’s promising to buildup the defense budget by enormous means. So what’s this about? What’s going on here?’” – Dr. David Holloway

“North Korea is truly an intractable problem. There are no good options. There are no magic bullet solutions… It would be nice to think that China or Russia could solve the problem for the world, for the region, but is not possible. Now, China has more leverage over North Korea than anybody else; that and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee. They don’t have enough leverage to produce results. The Chinese worry that in trying to pressure or prod an outcome around the nuclear weapons, around the nature of the regime, around the missile program, has a greater danger of destabilizing than of stabilizing the situation.” – Dr. Thomas Fingar

“…One of the things that made our 2016 election unusual was that the business community — which for eight administrations was the strongest advocate of stability in U.S.-China relations, that sort of you can have your rhetoric for elections but afterward, this is about money, this is about some costs — the business community basically sat this out. The business community is not happy with… Xi’s basically China first policy, theft of intellectual property, changing the rules… that made in China 2025 is in some ways a mirror image of made in America for Mr. Trump.” – Dr. Thomas Fingar