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In the unceasing competition between the great powers, this century’s dominant economic and foreign policy story has been China’s breathtaking rise from relative obscurity to the threshold of superpower status.

The accompanying narrative, which has become conventional wisdom in Australia and much of the world, is that the US is in decline and soon will be surpassed by an ascendant and economically irresistible China.

Donald Trump’s audacious and unexpected triumph in the 2016 US presidential election seemed confirmation of this view. The former real estate mogul and reality show star appears hellbent on upturning just about every orthodoxy of US foreign policy in his self-declared quest to make America great again.

Even normally supportive allies fear that Trump is tweeting his way to infamy as the President who presided over America’s downfall, removing the last obstacle to Xi Jinping’s coronation as the autocratic leader of a more illiberal world.

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