Entering the presidency, Donald J. Trump made clear his primary agenda with respect to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was altering the trade relationship between the two countries. As the challenge of a nuclear North Korea came to dominate his interactions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, however, Trump was forced temporarily to put his economic complaints on the backburner. Despite his fiery rhetoric, prolific tweeting, and early missteps with respect to Taiwan, other aspects of the relationship looked to maintain the status quo. By the end of the year, Trump’s incoherent policy neither had improved nor irrevocably damaged Sino-American ties, but it did have the effect of altering the leadership position of the United States in East Asia, ceding a great deal to an increasingly internationally engaged China.
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