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Trump’s Election Gift to China?

US President Donald Trump’s disastrous pandemic response and his alienation of America’s traditional allies have benefited China significantly. With American voters preparing to head to the polls on November 3, Trump seemingly has one more gift to give to Chinese President Xi Jinping: an election meltdown.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – For China, at least, US President Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. His calamitous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made China, whose government mishandled the initial outbreak in January this year, look like an exemplar of effective governance. Moreover, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has alienated traditional US allies, making it difficult to build a broad coalition to counter China.

To be sure, Trump has delivered painful blows to Chinese President Xi Jinping. His trade and technology wars are demolishing US-China commercial relations, and his administration’s support for Taiwan has infuriated Chinese leaders. But as American voters prepare to head to the polls on November 3, Trump seemingly has one more gift to give to Xi: an election meltdown.

In the run-up to this referendum on his presidency, Trump has repeatedly refused to commit unequivocally to accepting its outcome. He has used his presidential bully pulpit to try to delegitimize voting by mail, and even hinted that the US Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority following the Senate’s October 26 confirmation of Trump’s recent nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, would intervene and presumably deliver him a second term.