What Do Trump’s Views on Europe Mean for China?

A China in the World Podcast

President Trump will travel to Europe in May for his first time since taking office to meet with European Union (E.U.) leaders, attend a NATO meeting, and visit the organization’s headquarters in Brussels. Although he has walked back some of his more extreme criticisms of the European project and transatlantic organization from his campaign, Trump’s unpredictability remains a concern for many American allies. In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Tomáš Valášek, the Director of Carnegie Europe and former Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to NATO, to discuss the future of transatlantic relations and what shifting dynamics across Europe could mean for China.

Valášek says that Trump’s election was received with great apprehension by European nations, especially members of NATO. Although NATO has been confronted with internal challenges in recent years, President Trump’s questioning of its value represents a fundamentally new threat to the organization, according to Valášek. Valášek notes that the decision to strike Syria on humanitarian grounds gives European allies some hope that Trump’s “America First” foreign policy might not be so narrowly defined. He argues that Trump’s propensity to change views, including on China policy, would make it more difficult to anticipate the President’s future foreign policy actions. Within Europe, Valášek warns that China risks becoming entangled in historical and geopolitical tensions with its Belt and Road Initiative and should be wary of how other countries perceive future investments.