WHEN US President Donald Trump sits down to do an interview, it’s never short of noteworthy commentary and bombastic statements. And his Sunday night interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes was no different.
Trump covered a whole raft of topics, from the political climate in Washington – “full of lies, deceit and deception” – to Russia’s assassinations in Britain – “not in our country,” so not his concern.
In the in-depth chat with CBS’s Lesley Stahl, he touched on issues outside of Washington, issues that have significant impact out here in Asia Pacific.
From the trade war to nuclear war, these are Trump’s latest musings on the issues affecting the region.
Trump’s flagship international diplomatic efforts have been in North Korea. From threats of “fire and fury” just one year ago, the relationship between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has mellowed somewhat. Both sides are now in negotiations, seeking to expand on progress made during the Trump-Kim Summit back in June.
Over those few months since the Singapore meeting, Kim has sent Trump a number of private letters and has been singing the president’s praises on the world stage.
In receipt of the “beautiful” letters, Trump recently declared that he had fallen “in love” with the brutal dictator.
When asked about him embracing a man whose regime has been accused of committing ever recognised crime against humanity, Trump said:
“Sure. I know all these things. I mean, I’m not a baby. I know these things.”
Trump continued, ” Look, let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him. Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats.”
Lesley Stahl on Kim Jong Un: "He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation…slave labor, public executions. This is a guy you love?"
President Trump: "I know all these things… I get along with him, okay? … Let it be whatever it is to get the job done.” pic.twitter.com/J6Gbuns2t6
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 14, 2018
While acknowledging Russia’s interference in the US elections – something that is accepted as fact among the US intelligence community – Trump also pointed the finger of blame at China.
He doubled down on his accusation that Beijing was trying to sway voters against his Republican party, calling them a “bigger problem” than Russia despite his administration’s inability to provide evidence of this.
China also came up in relation to the US’s ongoing trade war – or as Trump wants to rename it, a “skirmish.”
The US has now imposed tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports and has threatened to add more if the Chinese don’t meet his demands. Fears over the ensuing trade conflict have sent stock markets in both America and Asia plummeting in the last few days.
Trump is sticking to his guns and is confident the Chinese will come back to the negotiating table.
“They want to negotiate … they want to negotiate,” the president said.
When asked if he was ready to negotiate, Trump responded, “I have a great chemistry … with President Xi (Jinping) of China. I don’t know that that’s necessarily going to continue. I told President Xi we cannot continue to have China take US$500 billion a year out of the United States in the form of trade and other things … and I said we can’t do that, and we’re not going to do that anymore.”
What has surprised President Trump during his time in office? How tough the political world is. “This is the most deceptive, vicious world,” he says. “It’s vicious. It’s full of lies, deceit and deception.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 14, 2018
After the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report last week detailed how urgent climate action was if we were to avert disaster, there is concern about how Trump would react.
After pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord as the first order of business upon taking office, people fear he will not take the impending risk seriously. And they would be right to fear that.
While not denying climate change, Trump is sceptical about man’s role in the accelerating warming of the planet.
“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made. I will say this. I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t want to be put at a disadvantage,” he said, despite the renewable energy sector being the fastest growing for job creation.
He also called into question the integrity and motives of the 97 percent of scientists who agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. Trump said, “You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda.”