The Fate of the Free World and the Fate of Free Trade

The moment we have all been waiting years for is finally here. The past year, our lives have been filled with more political articles, ads, debates and memes than our brains could possibly process. As I sit here typing my final blog post while live election updates play in the background (Florida: Trump at 48.9% and Clinton at 48.0%), I plan discuss the ever-so stimulating topic of US / China trade one last time. By the time I finish typing this, we may very well know who the next President of the United States is.


In relation to trade, Clinton and Trump have both shared a pair of pants – Clinton in the left leg and Trump in the right (pun intended) An article published in China Daily on Oct. 29 highlights the usage of Clinton and Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric. Both candidates have strongly positioned themselves throughout the campaign advocating for a “strong protectionism sentiment.” This is a unique position for both candidates to adopt as the United States has been known as a country “that has long touted itself as the champion of free trade.”

From the start, Trump promised to implement a 45% punitive tariff on Chinese imports; a pledge that can described as rhetorically irrational and impossible as this would likely result in Chinese retaliation and a strong opposition from powerful US businesses. Furthermore, such a tariff is impossible as it would be considered a violation of World Trade Organization rules. With the severity of these potential consequences, it becomes even more blatantly clear (if by chance it was not already) that Trump’s rhetorical strategy throughout the campaign has been to rally uneducated voters by targeting their aggression and frustration with the current American political system.

Meanwhile, Clinton has accused Trump of outsourcing his products from 12 countries, attempting to rhetorically frame the global outsourcing of products as a crime. If this is the case, “all the Fortune 500 companies, many of which have provided donations for the Clinton campaign, should be brought to justice because they are all producing goods and services in other countries including China.” Therefore, there are some overarching themes of hypocrisy throughout the campaign in regards to Clinton’s rhetoric.

Though the two candidates are both in different legs, they do still share a pair of pants in regards to their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clinton once referred to the TPP as the ‘gold standard,’ has since made a U-turn and changed her stance on the trade agreement. Somehow Clinton, a politician with 30 years of experience, has been able to slide by with flip-flopping on her positions. A Pew Center survey in January 2016 revealed that “the favorable view of trade deals among Americans is down 8 percentage points since 2014.” This could potential be the result of Clinton using rhetoric to successfully execute her stance on TPP, allowing her to gain support with polls show her leading nationally less than two weeks before the Nov 8 election.

In conclusion, both the fate of the free world and the fate of free trade will soon be determined. Whether its Trump or Clinton, the United States will be facing a unique rhetorical strategy in terms of trade with China. There will be a new set of threats and opportunities that either Clinton or Trump will be forced to take advantage or attempt to avoid. But as of now, I will sit patiently waiting the Season Finale of America.


(PS: Florida is still ‘too close to call’)

Trump Rhetoric Takes on Twitter


Ah, the infamous ‘Twitterverse,” teeming with political potential. Ah, the infamous Donald J. Trump, teeming with 11.6 million followers. That is 11.6 million people who have actively chosen to follow the 140 character-filled tweets of Donald Trump. Throughout the 2016 Presidental Campaign, Trump has proven himself to be a good source of entertainment for one’s Twitter feed as his controversial, 3 a.m. tweets have certainly continued to fuel this fire of his “instability.”

With the emergence of the digital era and the crucial element of social media in this election, it is so longer sufficient to simply analyze the rhetoric of candidates through their speeches, soundbites and quotes from debates. An individual’s chosen rhetoric on a social media can be just as enlightening and interesting as there are newly added rhetorical constraints and opportunities added to the situation (140 character limit, ability to reach millions in seconds, unsuccessful portrayal of tone, etc.)

Below are four of Tweets by Trump regarding his opinions on US / China Trade:


Mr. Confident: In this tweet, Trump’s rhetorical style is direct and confident. He is reaffirming his stance on foreign markets while also inferring to followers that this fact is something he has been saying for quite some time. By ending the tweet with “Get smart U.S.A,” Trump is offering an imaginary challenge: get smart, choose him and beat China OR stay dumb, choose Clinton and lose to China.


Are You Smarter Than a Sixth-Grader: Simple and to the point. In this Tweet, Trump highlights his experience with American buisness and states that “this is a bad deal.” Sixth-grade rhetoric? Sounds about right.


Complex Sentences? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That: The first two sentences are both five words long. Once again, succinct and to the point – yet, the Trump tone of voice somehow successfully emerges. This Tweet has an underlying threat. For the second time, Trump is urging America to get smart and is warning followers about the dangerous potential of China. In the image, you can see where some of Trump’s followers are directly responding back to his Tweet. While there are more than likely hundreds of thousands of replies (99% of which Trump will never take the time to see), this reveals a new set of rhetorical opportunities: two-way communication. Trump and his campaign team are able to get an inside look at how people are responding to each Tweet.


The Classic Clinton Attack: With this Tweet, Trump succesfully ran an attack ad campaign free of charge. With the inclusion of a statistic, Trump adds ethos to his post instead of appearing to just be acting on an emotional whim. Nevertheless, the spacing issue between the second and third lead me to believe that the Tweet was typed in a rush.

Social media has drastically changed the world in which we live in and the world in which presidental candidates campaign in. It was President Obama’s impressive social media presence and ability to connect with younger voters that may have been the deciding factor for his win in the 2008 election. Overall, social media has the power to extend a candidates rhetoric into a new technological realm of endless possibilities.

It’s never too late to follow them now – @realDonaldTrump and @HillaryClinton

Link to Trump’s Twitter Page

Link to Clinton’s Twitter Page


They ‘talk the talk,’ but can they ‘walk the walk?’

If there is one thing more surprising than both Clinton and Trump agreeing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is horrible, its that both candidates are putting on the facade of promising voters that they will reform or ultimately do away with the partnership all together. Well, in a few short weeks, either Clinton or Trump is going to be forced ‘walk the walk’ in regards to the intricate levels of rhetorical ‘talk’ that has been conducted throughout the campaign.

Throughout the presidental campaign,  both candidates have repeatedly shared their opposition to the TPP deal (which goal is to promote economic growth and cutting down tariffs on trade among 12 Pacific Rim nations – with the notable exclusion of China).

According to a recently published (Oct. 20) article by the South China Morning Post, “despite all the anti-TPP election rhetoric, many analysts still say the next US president is likely to adopt the pact, albeit under a different name and with possible alterations.” In short, not “walking the walk.”

Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations affirms that, “being candidates and being presidents are two very different things.”

Can this mean that all of the time that Clinton and Trump have spent constructing their US / China relationship rhetoric and all of the time the rhetorical audience has spent critiquing, believing, or arguing it, is all a moot point?  Well isn’t that unfortunate. Also, let us not forget that Clinton has already flipped her side once on the TPP, changing her rhetoric regarding the deal all together.

Economy goes on further to state that, “people who say they’re going to do one thing when they’re campaigning end up doing the exact opposite once they’re sitting in the White House.”

Furthermore, a recent study by the Honolulu-based East-West Centre’s Washington office reached conclusions that reiterated Economy’s opinions.  The study reported that the future of the TPP deal could “hang in the balance if Obama fails to get the trade pact ratified before he steps down – especially if Trump wins the election.” It is unlikely that TPP would get approved if Trump were to become President, but the study revealed that if Clinton wins, it is likely “she may publicly move to approve the pact with amendments, promising a difficult and perhaps contentious process in gaining needed international and congressional approvals.” 

Thus, Clinton would be facing a new set of rhetorical constraints – those of the role of the President of the United States. As the candidates rhetorical purpose transcends candidacy to presidency, it is more than understandable that their rhetoric will transcend alongside of them. With this making logical sense (at least to me), it is curious to consider that many of the rhetorical situations created throughout the campaign by the candidates are simply of symbolic function. Because in the end, the only rhetorical situation that truly matters is the one that is created when the chosen candidate sit down in the Oval Office for the first time.


China China China China China China China

Above is simply a video of Donald Trump repeating ‘China’ over and over and over again. Though this is a bit extreme of a representation, Trump’s repetition of ‘China’ throughout the campaign and in the video serve to highlight the importance he has placed on a the United State’s relationship with China throughout his career as a businessman and brief experience as a politician. When watching the video, it only takes around 15 seconds to realize that he is aggressive and intense when discussing China. This outlandish and bold behavior is precisely what enables him to be viewed as such a unique presidental candidate.

He is not politically correct. 

A recently published article includes quotes from a Chinese-American woman who – wait for it – is a Donald Trump supporter. Throughout her life, Ying Ma has dealt with numerous vicious, racist, personal, and public attacks for her political views.

Ma, a Cornell and Stanford Law educated professional, scholar, and author reveals that is was Trump’s war “on political correctness as the thing that ultimately drew her to the candidate.”

“Yet I believe this same man will overthrow — not just tinker with — the wretched political correctness that governs this country’s discussions and policies about race, ethnicity, gender, and other immutable characteristics. He will fight for Americans in a way that Republicans and Democrats have long been afraid to do, and he will think big, act boldly, and choose common sense over ingrained practices.”

Ma, a self-declared deplorable, states that she is a labeled a deplorable because she “dares to have a dissenting opinion.” Overall, for Ma, Donald Trump offers millions of Americans something she believes political correctness aims to squander – a voice.

So, what does this have to do with China, Trump and trade?

Trump is not politically correct; he never has been and most likely never will be. We spend time analyzing his rhetoric, when the truth is – it is not that complex. Trump says what is on his mind, and if thats ‘China, China, China, China,’ well, at least what you see is what you get. Trump has already proven to America that is not afraid to be bold and go against the grain – something that strongly separates him from a politician with 30 years of experience. Perhaps instead of focusing on the uneducated and aggressive nature of Trump’s rhetoric when discussing China, we should consider the opportunities created from his lack of ‘politically correctness’ and the constraints imposed by Clinton’s safe (but smarter) rhetorical style.


While both Clinton and Trump are looking to the platform of ‘change’ in regards to US trade with China, Trump has the opportunity to deliver a more powerful and enlightening stance in the final debate through his choices of ‘politically incorrect rhetoric.’ Overall, in this election, Trump is going into battle against more than just Clinton, Democrats, women, millennials, minorities – he is fighting a war against what the ‘PC rhetoric” of American politics has become.




Trump’s US / China Trade Policy Rhetoric

“The devaluations of their currencies by China and Japan and many, many other countries, and we don’t do it because we don’t play the game.”

“We don’t win at trade, China, everybody, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, India, name the country. Anybody we do business with beats us. We don’t win at trade.”

“They [Japan] have cars coming in by the millions and we sell practically nothing. When Japan thinks we mean it, they’ll stop playing around with the yen. They’re almost as good as China.”

Trump has certainly made an impact with his aggressive approach throughout the course of the campaign. Overall, Trump’s rhetoric regarding trade and the United State’s relationship with China appears narrow, one-sided, and overly simplistic. Though one of his most rhetorical strategies throughout the campaign has been his ability to speak at a level his target audience is going to be able to understand and comprehend. Nevertheless, though he presents his audience with a rhetoric that appears to make sense, his explanations and justifications regarding China and trade policy are over-simplified and ‘stuck in a time warp,’ as defined by Washington Post.

Trump’s rhetoric created a symbolic world “in which the United States never wins at trade and is flooded by imports because China and Japan keep their currencies artificially low.” By describing the US in such terms, Trump is creating a rhetorical situation that allows the opportunity for his audiences to agree with his policies – because it makes perfect sense, right?

Rhetoric of Trade Policy (US / China)

“Never before have both main presidential candidates broken so completely with Washington orthodoxy on globalization, even as the White House refuses to give up. The problem, however, goes much deeper than trade deals.”

For the first time in 70 years, both of the 2016 Presidential candidates are rethinking free trade. With this digression from traditional American values and ideals, there is bound to be new rhetoric regarding trade, foreign policy, and China found between the two candidates. Clinton and Trump, both rooted in opposition against the preexisting situations with regarding foreign trade, are once again forced to be looked upon as ‘the lesser of two evils’ by us poor, confused, American voters.

The rhetoric that has been used thus far throughout the campaign has been focused on labeling China as a “currency manipulator that undervalues the renminbi to help its exporters win sales in overseas markets.”

More specifically, Trump is interested in getting ride of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, a free-trade agreement between the US and a group of mostly Asian countries, while Clinton is saying that she opposes the agreement in its current form and would look to make strategic alterations.

An example of Trump’s harsh labeling and criminalization of China can be found in this quote from May, “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country — and that’s what they’re doing — it’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”

Through this, Trump is explicitly adhering to two criminal acts – rape and theft – and associating them with China, in order to raise feelings of concern and fear among his audience.

In contrast to Trump’s aggressive approach when discussing China, Clinton more subtly denounces her previous endorsement of TPP and focuses more on having a profitable relationship with foreign nations. “We have to trade with the rest of the world. We are 5 percent of the world’s population. We have to trade with the other 95 percent. And trade has to be reciprocal. That’s the way the global economy works. But we have failed to provide the basic safety net support that American workers need in order to be able to compete and win in the global economy.”

Though she acknowledges that change is necessary, it does not help her case that she is known to be a previously positive endorser for the TPP agreement, even referring to it as “the gold standard” in her book.

Overall, the rhetoric used by the two candidates regarding foreign trade and China reinforces the already existing rhetorical structure that each candidate has developed during the campaign. Though both are advocating for a change in policy, Hillary is framing hers in such a way that alienates her from Trump – ultimately hoping that Trump’s harsh appeals will appear more unstable, allowing her to assume a more worldly, experienced, and presidential role.