The president still hasn’t formally conceded the election, but that hasn’t stopped him from making plans for his final months in office, a paradox I’m sure quantum physicists will be puzzling over for decades to come.
Trump intends to enact a series of “hardline” policies targeting China during his remaining time as president, in attempts to make it “politically untenable for the Biden administration to change course,” according to Axios. These include additional sanctions and restrictions on trade with Chinese companies and crackdowns on the country in response to its forced labor practices.
“Unless Beijing reverses course and becomes a responsible player on the global stage, future U.S. presidents will find it politically suicidal to reverse President Trump’s historic actions,” National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot told Axios on Sunday.
Biden has signaled that he would like to ease some of the tariffs on China, and plans to establish more of a “global coalition to force China into liberalizing its economy,” CNN reported—though there haven’t been any official statements on Chinese relations from the Biden transition team.
But as Ullyot makes explicit, it’s Trump’s intention to shape the country’s relationship with China for years to come and make it more difficult for Biden to implement his own policies. And to be clear, it’s not because the president is outraged by Chinese internment camps or opposed to engaging in diplomacy with leaders carrying out human rights abuses: According to John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, Trump thought detaining between one and three million Uigurs “was exactly the right thing to do.”
On a big-picture level, these reported plans signal that Trump will exercise his executive powers to their fullest extent while he still has them, eschewing the traditional definition of a “lame duck” president. As he continues to loudly (and unsuccessfully) contest the election results and delay the presidential transition, it’s likely he’ll soon make other foreign policy announcements, hand down last-minute executive orders, issue pardons, and leverage the presidency to personally enrich himself, as he’s been doing.
Sure, the election may finally be over. But all of this is just beginning.