What you need to know
A different take on U.S. President-elect Donlad J. Trump.
Yes, Donald Trump did become U.S. president, and what you prayed would not happen did happen. That 2013 joke, that disaster which, until Nov. 7, you were confident could be dodged? That is now reality the world must face.
The attitude of many Hong Kong people towards Trump's win is probably similar to that towards Brexit. After all, there was no instant stock market crash (Mexico apart), and he is not the first unfit leader of a nation. President Duterte of the Philippines has always been open about his extrajudicial executions of drug lords and addicts alike. There are enough immediate concerns at home to keep people worried: the rule of law is going down the drain, the crackdown on activists is continuing and further restrictions on freedom based on Article 23 is looming. The entrance of a Trump character feels like a remote problem.
Unfortunately, Trump’s destructive influence is far-reaching. Brexit's effect on Hong Kong would mainly be economic. Duterte's influence is limited; his pro-China stand could even be welcomed by some. However, allowing a narrow-minded, immoral, racially discriminating and outright con artist to lead the world's most influential country is more dangerous than asking a child to perform surgery on you. There are a few policies that he has been emphasizing all along that, if carried out, could lead to global disasters.
- Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. One of Trump's election promises is the withdrawal from all commitments to the UN's Climate Change Agreement, such as payment for the Green Climate Fund. He has further pledged to revive and develop the coal mining industry. With many Republicans' determined dismissal of scientific evidence on global climate change, the recently signed Paris Climate Change Agreement could again be turned into hot air, or even be formally canceled. Scientists have pointed out that the limitation on carbon emissions set by the Paris agreement is only a small step towards the control of the global climate crisis. If we were to retract even this baby step, and instead turn back to the promotion of coal and oil, global warming would soon enter a phase of vicious feedback, and by then it would be totally out of our hands.
- Pursuit of policy discriminatory against certain races and minorities. This could include mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, exclusion of Muslims, tolerance of white supremacism and more. Besides giving rise to various domestic conflicts and unrest, such policies would deepen the enmities of Muslim extremists and terrorists both in and outside the U.S., providing spiritual ammunition to the so-called Islamic State (IS), and intensifying terrorist attacks around the world. Another worry is Trump's true ambition in all this. He has won the presidency by riding a wave of public anger towards big corporations and those with vested interests, and the resentment against non-white immigrants. The process is eerily similar to Hitler's rise to power in the post-World War I era. Hitler, from his origin as an unknown public speaker ridiculed for his exaggerated tone of voice and gestures, took advantage of public discontent at the harsh terms imposed on Germany by the victorious Allies, fanned the flames of antisemitism among the people, and eventually took over the country. If a madman who is intoxicated by power in the world's highest level of office becomes entrenched in all that power, he could cause even more damage and set off another global cataclysm.
- Policy reversal towards allies and Russia. Trump has always shown admiration for Russian President Putin, and has been clear in his intention to improve US relations with Russia. At the same time, he has emphasized that he would stop military funding for NATO's allies and Japan. All good news for Russia. With a good chance for the lifting of economic sanctions on Russia, its expansion in the Middle East and Europe would be plain sailing. Other aggressors like North Korea and the IS would also be waiting to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity.
- Abolition or renegotiation of existing agreements with economic partners. NAFTA, the trade agreement signed by Canada, Mexico and the U.S., would be the first to be affected. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now officially put on hold. Trump has also said he would declare China a currency manipulator. This could lead to new rounds of sparring between the two countries, or even spark trade wars setting back economic development in China and Hong Kong. Trump has defied all predictions against him. We could now only hope that we are once again completely wrong about him being a disaster in the White House. It would be a blessing if he turns out to be just a moderately bad and corrupt US president who is in it for the money, recognition, for getting back at Obama, and that when the presidential high wears off in four years' time, the world would be left standing.
Editor: Edward White