Chinese state media on Saturday (21 January) warned the country to prepare for the worst, while also hoping for the best under Donald Trump's presidency. It expressed doubt about the Republican's ability to manage the Sino-US ties and cautioned Beijing to brace for "dramatic changes" to the bilateral policies.
The state-run newspapers' comments came in reaction to Trump's inaugural speech where he vowed to "make America great again" and accused foreign countries of stealing American jobs. While the new president did to take China's name exclusively, he said in a defiant tone that Americans are devastated because of outsourcing of jobs abroad.
"Frictions between the US and its allies, and trade tensions between the US and China seem inevitable within the four years ahead," the Global Times said in its editorial.
The Communist Party's mouth-piece, which is often known to strike a nationalistic tone, confidently opined that Trump's government would "ignite" many "fires" on its front door and around the world and that China has to wait to see when its turn would come.
However, its sister paper, the People's Daily, in its front page commentary of the overseas edition, said China could hope for the best under new administration in the White House. It said the two sides should not try to force each other into compliance, instead work together to achieve a win-win cooperation to manage their disputes amiably.
"The new US government should realise that it's normal for these two great countries to have problems and disagreements. What is crucial is to control and manage disputes and find a way to resolve them. China hopes the inauguration of the new US president can be a new starting point for the development of China-US ties," the paper said.
"The stable and healthy development of relations accords with the interest of both peoples, and is the common expectation of the international community," it added.
The Global Times also took a dig at how Trump had made a number of "lofty promises" during his inaugural speech but gave fewer details on how plans to carry them out.
"It remains to be seen if he can keep his ambitious promise throughout his term – correcting the domestic and foreign policies and the world order he believes to have strayed off track," the paper said.
The commentary also stated that Trump is yet to formulate a China policy and that it will hinge on how well the president understands the overlapping interests of the world's two biggest economies. It will also determine whether he will be motivated enough to make changes to the existing structure with force, it said.
Analysts believe Beijing should also be prepared for the worst. Pang Zhongying, a scholar from Renmin University in China, said the communist country needs to engage in some "worst-case scenario planning" while Trump holds the fort in Washington.
"The confrontation between China and the US will likely not be focused on ideological aspects, but has moved to the economic front," Pang told the South China Morning Post.
He added that a trade war between the two sides seems to be "inevitable".