US -China Relations–Trump’s Strategy

December 26, 2016

US -China Relations–Trump’s Strategy

by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd@ Reuters


Image result for Trump and China

When Donald Trump becomes US President next month, one issue above all others could force his new administration to work closely with China and underscore why he and Beijing need each other – North Korea.

A nuclear armed North Korea, developing missiles that could hit the US west coast, is clearly bad news for Washington, but also Pyongyang’s sometimes-reluctant ally Beijing, which fears one day those missiles could be aimed at them.

“There is enormous space for the two countries to cooperate on North Korea. The two must cooperate here. If they don’t, then there will be no resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat now with the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry.

Image result for China and North Korea

“It’s no good the United States saying China has to do more. Both have common interests they need to pursue, and both can do more,” he added.

North Korea is a tricky proposition even at the best of times for China and simply easing up on UN sanctions as a way to express displeasure at Mr. Trump’s foreign policies could backfire badly for China, said one China-based Asian diplomat.

“They can’t really do that without causing themselves problems,” the diplomat added, pointing to China’s desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

From North Korea to Iran to a closely entwined business relationship worth $598 billion in 2015, the two countries have broad common interests and China expects Mr. Trump to understand that.

While China was angered by Mr. Trump’s call this month with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, and then casting doubt over the future of the “one China” policy under which the US recognizes Taiwan as being part of China, it was also quite restrained, said a senior Beijing-based Western diplomat.

“China’s game now is to influence him and not antagonize him,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. China believes the two countries need each other and as Mr. Trump is a businessman he understands that, the People’s Daily wrote last month.

Image result for China's Xi

“The importance of the China-US relationship goes without saying and can be said to be too big to fail,” the Communist Party mouthpiece wrote in a commentary.

China also expects a transactional relationship with the deal-making Mr. Trump, especially on trade, even if for Beijing Taiwan is completely off limits for negotiation.

“Trump is a businessman. He wants a deal,” a source with ties to the Chinese leadership said, requesting anonymity. “He wants the biggest benefit at the smallest cost.”

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump threatened punitive tariffs on China and has recently repeated his criticism of Chinese trade policy, dovetailing with his Taiwan comments.

“This is provocation, but war is unlikely,” a second Chinese source with leadership ties said of Mr. Trump’s Taiwan moves.“The Chinese side will not easily yield,” the source said. “We expect tensions.”

Wang Huiyao, head of the Center for China and Globalization and a government adviser, said China should invite the United States to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

“He will pursue US interests and to do so he cannot ignore the huge benefits that come from China-US trade relations,” Mr. Wang said.

The Asian diplomat said some Chinese officials had expressed “euphoria” at Mr. Trump’s election, believing it marked the end of US dominance in the world and represented China’s chance to seize the initiative.

But Mr. Trump’s unexpected move to put the Taiwan issue center stage in relations with China had put an end to that.“They’re not as happy now,” he said.

To be sure, there are voices in China seeing opportunity in a Trump presidency.

Huo Jianguo, the former head of a trade policy body under China’s Commerce Ministry, said Mr. Trump is likely to reduce the United States’ engagement with the world, presenting an opening for China.

“Under Obama, China-US relations had already deteriorated to their worst possible level. Trump will not continue to ratchet up what were clearly ideological attempts to suppress China,” Mr. Huo said.

“China should not seek to immediately take the lead in global governance. They should first lead Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to become successful, then from here China’s global influence can take root,” Mr. Huo said, referring to a Southeast Asian-backed free trade deal China has championed.

Even the Global Times, an influential and normally stridently nationalistic tabloid, has sought to temper expectations on how China could use a Trump presidency to its advantage.

“China still cannot match the US in terms of comprehensive strength,” it said in an editorial. “It has no ability to lead the world in an overall way, plus, neither the world nor China is psychologically ready for it.

“It’s beyond imagination to think that China could replace the US to lead the world.” –Reuters

7 thoughts on “US -China Relations–Trump’s Strategy

  1. Merry Christmas everyone. It is 1:30 a.m and I am sitting cozily by the fireplace in my cabin at Lake Tahoe, with my laptop and a large cup of hot chocolate. It is five degree Fahrenheit outside but feeling like minus two degree. The wind is calm.

    This morning I took my family out hiking. We showed the cold weather who’s boss by strapping on our snowshoes and clambering up the hiking trails. We were rewarded with snowy solitude and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe at its most serene.

    Lift accessed hiking is almost as fun as lift accessed skiing, allowing you to access high elevation trails without all that pesky effort. Explore Heavenly’s varied options at the top of the Gondola. One favorite is to take the Tamarack Express chairlift for expansive views of Lake Tahoe. Once at the top hike along Skyline Trail for more scenic views of the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe. Approximately 2 miles round trip.

    Ah, about the US-China relations under Trump. I believe Trump is backing the wrong horse. Getting tough with China will be a huge disservice to both countries, and could spell trouble for the entire Pacific region. The U.S. and China need each other on several issues of global concern, starting with climate change and security on the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, Trump does not yet have around him advisers versed in Chinese or Asian affairs. His Trade Adviser, Peter Navarro, is an anti-China alarmist who is alarmingly ignorant about trade.

    Let’s hope he finds some experienced hands before it is too late. In the meantime, he would be well advised to heed President Obama’s comment that the one China policy “goes to the core of how they [the Chinese] see themselves and their reaction on this issue could end up being very significant.”

    Honestly, I’m pretty pessimistic about the whole situation. I believe Trump has decided on a collision course with China. I don’t mean just a trade war but possibly a military one. From what I judge of Xi Jinping’s character, I don’t think Trump can bully him around. From what I see in the recent development in the South China Sea, China is preparing for war with the US.

    Maybe my friend Simon is right–Trump is a Russian agent looking for a military confrontation with China, dragging Japan into the war. All three would get hurt leaving the Russian unscathed to rule the world. Take it with a grain of salt.

  2. Trump, just like any newly appointed CEO of a large, rich conglomerate, wants to show who’s boss, both to the company staff and competitors. The American people are the staff and China the most important competitor.

    Let him step into the Oval office and things may look very different. In a commercial environment you send out marketing people to promote your products, or to scout out the competition, but in the Oval office you may send Americans with wife and young kids out to places and situations where they may be captured, tortured and finally killed.

    Look again at the horrified faces of those members of Obama’s cabinet around the TV screen watching the live feed of the helicopter crash during the Osama bin Laden’s assassination and you will know what I mean.

    An all out war with China? Unlikely because China will back down. Trump is counting on this and his trump card of course is Russian who is behaving exactly like the way PAS is behaving towards Najib’s UMNO.

  3. China’s chief concern is that U.S. policy will shift to supporting Taiwan’s independence. Trump’s embrace of Taiwan is reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s strong support of Taiwan early in their presidency. But that eventually resulted in Bill Clinton’s “three no’s” in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and before long Bush accepted the One China Principle of his predecessors and backed off from a shift on Taiwan.

    It’s not clear that Trump will do the same. When it comes to the idea of getting tough on China, Donald Trump is looking more and more serious.
    He announced the creation of the White House National Trade Council and said it would be headed by Peter Navarro, a Democrat and an outspoken China critic who advocates diplomatic relations with an independent Taiwan.

    Trump may just be testing the waters, but if he believes he can pressure China, he’ll find that Beijing does not respond well to pressure tactics or blackmail. China’s seizure on December 15 of the U.S. Navy’s unmanned research drone in international waters and its bomber and warplanes flew around Taiwan may be just a preview, daring Trump to bring it on. The military gap between the U.S. and China is no longer as large as many people thought. China knows they may not win a war against the US but are very confident to cause devastating damage to the U.S. If a small scale war turned into a nuclear one, both lose.

    Some may see Trump as a shrewd businessman who elbows himself into position for the best deals. I see him an unethical businessman who believes in end justifies means. With six bankruptcies he saved his business empire by using illegal monies from the Russian mafia. I see him as a selfish megalomaniac who will do whatever it takes to win and to get what he wants, disregard the harms he will bring to whoever and whatever. He sees himself the center of the universe, everyone and everything rotates around him at his command. The sycophants around him compared him to Jesus Christ recently.

    Substituting practices for conventional diplomacy can only be understood with reference to Trump’s “art of the deal,” where winning is everything. Negotiating is not between equals and is not about compromise, it’s a test of power. A rejected offer may lead to retribution. Ethical considerations are meaningless and what counts is getting what one wants. In Trump’s world, the nation’s business is intertwined with his personal business. That reality opens up a vast arena for conflicts of interest, not just for Trump’s business empire but also for the far-flung business activities of several of his nominees for cabinet-level positions.

    Trump says, “China is killing us.” What he is actually saying is that China outperforms us in all aspects. He cannot conceive of the possibility that U.S.-China tensions, whether on trade or the South China Sea dispute, are the product of both countries’ actions and therefore subject to diplomatic resolution. Nor does he seem willing to accept changes that have occurred in Chinese policy, such as on currency valuation, that are favorable to the U.S. Trump has a one-sided mind, seemingly incapable of grasping nuances, acknowledging honest differences, and seeking common ground.

    Xi will not back down to Trump’s pressure tactics or blackmail. He may concede on some trade issues but Taiwan is their core interest of sovereignty and national unity. It is an unfinished civil war. If China retreats on this they might as well wave goodbye to their rise to become a power, and the CCP wave goodbye to its legitimacy of ruling China.

    Granted, Trump is still a president-elect and all his nominees have not been approved by the Congress yet. If Trump dares to reverse the one China policy to support Taiwan independence, I am certain there will be war and nothing but war for China is left with no choice. To avoid war Trump has to back down, for Xi’s back is already against the wall and no place to back. The only recourse is to fight, come what may.

    It’s only Trump’s own wishful thinking he could drive a wedge between Russia and China, thinking of his close relations with the Russian oligarchs and Russian mafia. But Putin has his own national interests to consider. During his year end news conference where Putin lectured the Democrats not to be a sore loser, and while anticipating a warmer relationship with the U.S. he spent more time to emphasize his strong relationships with Xi’s China. When and if Trump approaches him trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China, I am sure Putin will give him a run around as he recently done to Shinzo Abe–show your “sincerity” through action first and then we will think about it; and telling the Japanese bluntly that further and deeper discussion could only come when the Russo-Japanese relations are as close as the Sino-Russo ones. In the global geopolitical arena, Russia needs China as much as China needs Russia against the US. None of the three trust each other.

    This reminds me of the Chinese classic “Romance of Three Kingdoms” where a weaker nation want to use the other weaker nation to check and balance the stronger one; but you do not want to use the stronger nation to destroy the other weaker nation for you will be left alone in direct confrontation with the stronger one. Simple ABC.

  4. Just make a study of the range of goods that enter the US from China and from China into the US ans the duty paid. And do not forget to also include Japan and Korea in your study. That will tell you as to who has the upper hand.

  5. No matter where our political believes lie, the cold reality is that, for China to attain a moderate well off society for its people, by the sheer size of its population, would mean that it’s imperative for it to have military dominance in East and South East Asia. There simply is no other way around that.

    China has 1.3+ billion people, everyone knows that. Currently it has the 2nd highest nominal GDP in the world. Its GDP is roughtly two thirds of that of the United States. But if we are looking at GDP per capita, China is only at one seventh that of the US.

    Now if we subscribe to the notion that everyone is born equal, that everyone has the inherent right for equal development, then we should also allow for the space for the Chinese to have at least achieve “half” of the prosperity, per person, that of America. If China achieves that, then its national GDP would be already more than twice the size of America’s.

    Currently, its sea lines of communication is heavily relied on the waters of East and South East Asia. Would anyone expect them to continue relying on other parties for its security? I see a repeat of America’s Monroe Doctrine happening in Asia. Just substitute “America” with “China”.

    For China, at stake here is nothing short of national survival. Therefore, I see them prepared to defend their interests, at very high costs if need be. Developments in recent years like the fortifications of islands, military advancements on land, naval and air, and economic integrations are not flights of fancy. It is most probably the results of long term deliberate planning.

    I think the Chinese leadership would prefer to not have any conflicts in the near future, but there are signs that they are preparing for just that. What will happen after the first shot is fired?

  6. The main issue here is not about trade. Trump using Taiwan to blackmail China on trade is what China takes very, very seriously and is prepared to go into war over it.

    Trump has made it clear that he intends to make changes in how U.S.-China trade is operated. Much of the media and in the business world seems to conclude and hype up that Trump may be on the way to inciting a trade war with China.

    If it is just about how trade is to be re-structured, I believe the Chinese will have no problem with it. The value of exports to the U.S. represents over one fifth of China’s global total. So, the U.S. is important to the Chinese economy. Critically important, because there are no alternative markets for most of this trade, and a lot of the Chinese economy depends on American people buying goods made in China.

    To be fair, the trade problem between the U.S. and China is not created by the Chinese. Over the past 25 years, the American position on trade with China has been unfocused, and clearly not engineered based on mutual strength. There truly are imbalances in the relationship – virtually all due to U.S. non-policy on trade while China practices policy on trade. For example, some U.S. commodities such as fish have a tariff applied by China, while the same commodity coming from China suffers no tariff-inflated price at the American supermarket checkout. That’s not something the Chinese created – inept American policies have allowed it to continue. You just can’t blame everything on the Chinese.

    The explosive issue here is not about trade. It is about Trump’s comment on “Fox News Sunday” came after he prompted a diplomatic protest from China over his decision to accept a telephone call from Taiwan’s president on Dec. 2. Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China,” questioning nearly four decades of policy in a move that really antagonized Beijing.

    “I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump told Fox. He was indeed using Taiwan and the One China Policy to blackmail China to make concession on trade.

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