Should Donald Trump win in November, expect a more concerted effort at economic de-risking and more unpredictability when it comes to China policy. That’s the view of Ali Wyne, a senior advisor on U.S.-China relations at the International Crisis Group. I spoke with Wyne on the broader China challenge in the latest episode of our podcast, The Pivot.

Listen to this episode of The Pivot on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Audacy, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Pocket Casts, RadioPublicSpotify, TuneIn Radio, or YouTube Music.

The episode covers a lot of ground, from China’s response to the Taiwan presidential elections, how to avert a U.S.-China war over the island country, and the differences between the China policies of the Biden and Trump administrations.

Wyne argues that irrespective of who wins in November, political leaders in both countries have publicly affirmed the fundamentally competitive nature of the bilateral relationship. Trump, Wyne says, could push for a more aggressive form of de-risking that nears decoupling, but cautions that there are structural limitations to how far that can go. Actual decoupling, in Wyne’s view, is an “impossibility” due to U.S.-China economic interdependence.

Wyne warns that China could play a “divide and conquer” game with U.S. allies should Trump return to power.

In his first term, Trump was often erratic in his sentiments toward China — “mercurial,” as Wyne puts it diplomatically.” The Trump administration also hit U.S. allies with economic penalties while targeting Beijing.

China can point toward these precedents along with the overall political uncertainty in Washington and make the case to American allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific that the U.S. is an unreliable partner.

Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News. Rafiq has contributed commentary and analysis on global issues for publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the New York Times, and POLITICO Magazine.

He has appeared on numerous broadcast outlets, including Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio.

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