One hundred days into Donald Trump’s presidency, he has shocked the establishment and foreign governments with many foreign policy reversals, and also some surprising areas of consistency. In this podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Jon Finer, former chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry and director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State, to discuss the major takeaways from Trump’s first 100 days in office, and the future of U.S.-China engagement.

Finer said that the first 100 days of any president’s tenure in office have never been a good indicator of their administration’s future policy, and the same will likely hold true for Donald Trump. Finer did, however, note unexpected changes and continuities in Trump’s foreign policy so far, including the continuation of prior U.S. approaches to Israel and Palestine, and a change toward greater military involvement in the Middle East despite the fact that Trump had previously pledged to be more domestically focused. He believes Trump’s foreign policy will focus on protecting U.S. interests above upholding U.S. values, which he expects will be well-received in the Middle East and China. On China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Finer agreed with Haenle that the United States should find a balance between dismissing the initiative completely and fully embracing it. He expressed doubts that China could pursue the initiative in purely economic terms without becoming entangled in regional geopolitics.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Haenle’s research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and U.S.-China relations.

Jon Finer

Jon Finer was chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State.