Sources tell The Chronicle that former New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox would be an aggressive United States Ambassador to China, if he is tasked by President Donald Trump to strong-arm the ‘Middle Kingdom’ into new trade, environmental, and intellectual property regimes — or to orchestrate a global retaliation against the Nation’s destructive currency manipulation.
It’s widely expected that restructuring America’s economic relationship with China will be the defining achievement of the Trump presidency, and it’s likely to be an ongoing effort on several fronts and will remain so through the entirety of his second term.
“Détente with China will be the next president’s challenge, and that’s fine. Right now we have a geo-strategic trade war to win,” explains the longtime political operative with close ties to the Trump administration. “And it’s going to take very tough, assertive diplomacy and decisive actions to win.”
The move could also strengthen Cox’s hand in his current role — as Chairman of the finance committee of the president’s reelection campaign. Cox is an influential and well-connected figure in New York’s business and political establishments, where the global capital markets hinge on the evolving American-China trade relationship.
As President Trump’s chief fundraiser in New York — and perhaps now his Ambassador-in-waiting — interest in global trade could energize the financial industry’s attendance at Cox’s renowned fundraising galas.
Cox is no stranger to China. Indeed it was his father-in-law, the late President Richard Nixon, who was the first American President to travel to China and opened relations with the communist government there. Nixon allowed trading with the west, which had largely ceased following the Cultural Revolution. Doing so would allow for the nation’s stunning emergence in the global economy.
Relationships and narrative history are powerful tools in diplomacy, especially with the Chinese and other East Asian cultures. By tasking the son of President Nixon, who first extended a hand to China, to now right that relationship sends a powerful message to the Chinese.
It also creates meaningful political subtext about betrayal and the intergenerational nature of foreign relations that may be useful to Trump: that America is willing to bring up developing third-world nations, but that we will not be manipulatively exploited.
“In many ways, Ed Cox was the Jared Kushner of a previous generation,” the political operative explains. “He is exceptionally smart, reserved, measured, and strategic in his thinking.”
“Ed would be a cunning and capable diplomat, especially in the context of a global trade war, given his relationships in the New York financial establishment,” he adds. “I hope that Trump allows him into the inner circle because when it comes to China, he could be one of the President’s most potent generals in a war that is more nuanced than those fought with bullets.”