As the results come in for the most dramatic election campaign in US history since World War II, uncertainty about the future of Sino-US relations persists.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent two different concepts of governing a country. Democratic nominee Clinton's domestic platform focuses on intervention through various social policies. In foreign affairs, she will extend the country's overseas presence and insist on values-based diplomacy. After all, Clinton is the initiator of the US policy to rebalance Asia and her overseas supporters have benefited from US presence and intervention.
Republican candidate Trump will pursue conservative economic and social policies that reduce economic intervention and return to "traditional US values." Externally, Trump will cut back on the US overseas presence and pull together domestic resources and energy to focus on building capability domestically.
If Clinton is elected, she will likely continue with the policies pursued by Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013 when she served as Secretary of State, which may exacerbate the hollowing out of the US economic foundation and reverse discrimination. The labor force participation rate in the US has dropped to 62.9 percent, the lowest level in more than four decades. I would suggest that such a situation will pose a long-term threat to the sustainable development of the US economy and society.
What's even worse is that American politics overemphasizes equality, which weakens American traditional values and undermines its competitiveness. Those who strongly recognize American traditional value and remain motivated and hardworking are subject to reverse discrimination. They fear that if Clinton is elected, that tendency will be reinforced and thus shake America's economic foundation and undermine its social development. On international affairs, the intervention policy line practiced by Obama and Clinton will erode national strength.
If Clinton is elected, she will be a very vulnerable president. This is not only because her e-mail scandal has weakened the trust the American public has in her but also because she has lost the support of some Americans. In order to consolidate the support of her "die-hard fans," she will rely even more on policies which may undermine the sustainable development of American economy and society.
While the economic and political policies are more predicable if Clinton takes office, the uncertainty regarding economic and political policy will be huge if Trump is the next president. If Trump follows his core political stand and policy lines as he presented before - lowering tax rate, streamlining bureaucracy and reducing overseas presence, it is no doubt a good thing for America's economic and social sustainability. But the problem is that it remains a mystery over whether he can live up to his promises and deliver results.
Nevertheless, from a comprehensive view, it would make it easier for China to cope if Trump is elected. This is because under the policy line advocated by Obama and Clinton, the political and military frictions between China and the US will be more frequent. Instead, Trump has always insisted on abandoning ideological division and minimizing the risks that unnecessary conflicts with other countries may bring to the US. Regarding his remarks on trade protectionism he has made during the election campaign, he will be probably be forced to adjust to be in line with the laws of economics if he is in power.
More importantly, if Trump takes office, it will probably create a chance to end the "self-damaging competition" between China and the US, where the leaders have adopted improper policies and measures in order to gain advantage in international competitions even when they know these policies will fundamentally erode social cohesion and the potential for sustainable development of their nations.
Many Chinese observers believe that if Clinton wins the election, it will accelerate the erosion of America's national strength and therefore benefit China. But in fact, the US is only an external element. What matters most for China is that it should enhance its own social cohesion and remain committed to reform and progress. In doing so, China could advance shoulder-to-shoulder and prosper along with the US if the country remains resurgent; and if the US declines, China will not be affected.