Editor’s Note: This post was written by Courtney Tomeny.
In January 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. As with all presidencies, he has many opportunities and potential obstacles ahead of him. Some of these opportunities and obstacles will come in the form of foreign policy decisions and the diplomatic relationships that President Trump establishes.
The Trump administration has the possibility of securing the diplomatic relations that President Barack Obama started to rebuild with Cuba. Historically, Cuba and the United States have been sharply divided and isolated from one another. President Obama and the President of Cuba, Raul Castro, announced, “that they would move toward normalization of diplomatic relations.” President Trump can continue to strengthen the diplomatic relationship with Cuba, especially considering that the leadership of Cuba has publicly stated their willingness to open discussion and diplomacy; “In January, Cuban President Raul Castro said his government wished ‘to pursue a respectful dialogue and cooperation on topics of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump.’” By re-establishing a diplomatic relationship with Cuba and expanding on what President Obama did during his presidency, President Trump could continue to expand American business possibilities into Cuba. Should Donald Trump remove the current embargo or lessen the impacts of it further, then this could lead to an increase in travel, tourism and the airline industry. There is also an opportunity for American markets to move into Cuba and expand their own profits. If he is successful in keeping diplomatic ties and cordial conversation with Cuba, then President Trump could take credit for finishing what President Obama started and establish a lasting connection with our Latin American neighbor.
The foreign relationship with China, however, could pose a major challenge to President Trump’s administration and the security of the United States. After winning the election, Donald Trump had a phone call with the President of Taiwan. This phone call conflicted with the “One China” policy which America has previously upheld. This policy only recognizes the “communist leadership in Beijing as the sole legitimate government” of China. This phone call and perceived disregard for the “One China” policy could lead to a tenuous relationship with China and have major economic impacts. Since his inauguration, President Trump has committed to upholding the “One China” policy and recently had a phone call with the Chinese President Xi Jinping which was considered to be “extremely cordial”. Although this is a move in the right direction in remaining civil and communicative with China, the conflict still exists. It will be a challenge for President Trump to remain communicative and diplomatic in securing ties with China.
The president will have to carefully consider the relationships with China and Cuba and decide how to proceed. Foreign affairs will be an integral part of President Trump’s administration and it will be interesting to see what his intentions are in terms of establishing international relationships.