Was China’s Latest U.N. Veto Payback for Trump Bluster on Taiwan, Trade?

China's veto at UN Security Council meeting. Photo credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

China’s veto at UN Security Council meeting. Photo credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump fired off a pair of provocative tweets denouncing Beijing’s trade policies and defending his precedent-shattering phone call with Taiwan’s leader, China showed Washington it can play hardball, too: It changed its previous position and joined Russia to veto a U.S.-backed resolution calling for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire in Aleppo, essentially condemning besieged Syrian civilians.

The Chinese action is just one of the myriad ways that Beijing can potentially upend American diplomatic priorities at the United Nations, from pushing to end the war in Syria to punishing chemical weapons violators to working to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

Western diplomats fret that China’s tough stance could be a harbinger of tougher times ahead. They anticipate China may well cast another veto, alongside Russia, to block a draft resolution currently under negotiation by the United States, Britain, and France that would sanction Syria for using chlorine bombs against at least three rebel-held towns.

The Chinese veto over Syria caught the United States and other U.N. Security Council members off guard. Though China had stood with Russia before, including four vetoes on Syria-related U.N. resolutions since 2011, in recent months Chinese President Xi Jinping has put some distance between himself and Moscow as Russia’s brutal air campaign in Aleppo drew international condemnation. On Oct. 8, Russia was forced to cast the lone veto blocking a French- and Spanish-drafted resolution that would have demanded an end to Russian and Syrian airstrikes in eastern Aleppo. China abstained.

In recent weeks, according to several council diplomats, all signs indicated that China would abstain again on the new resolution, which was drafted by Egypt, New Zealand, and Spain. It was seen as less controversial than the resolution China abstained on in October. Over the weekend, many even thought Russia itself might abstain, after Moscow secured a number of amendments that would allow attacks against terrorists during the cease-fire and require moderate opposition forces to sever ties with terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

“The indications over the weekend were that [China] would abstain. The veto was a surprise,” said a senior U.N.-based official.

As a veto-wielding U.N. power, China possesses enormous leverage to gum up the works at the United Nations, as it did in the 1990s, when it cast vetoes to block U.N. peacekeepers from serving in U.N. operations in Guatemala and Macedonia because the countries established diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Recently, China has preferred to avoid such blunt displays of power, positioning itself instead as a responsible global player, committing troops for U.N. peacekeeping operations from Lebanon to South Sudan. Today, China has more peacekeepers deployed in overseas missions than any other great power. China is also angling for the top U.N. peacekeeping job, a post that would put it in charge of more than 100,000 blue helmets.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently praised Beijing for working closely with Washington to impose U.N. sanctions aimed at slashing North Korea’s ability to export coal and earn money needed for its atomic ambitions.

It is hard to know for certain whether China’s vote was designed more to punish Trump or to reward Vladimir Putin — or both. Moscow and Beijing have enjoyed closer diplomatic and economic ties in recent years, and both seek to nibble away at the U.S. role globally.

But the timing of the Chinese vote raised suspicions among some council diplomats that Trump’s rapprochement with Taiwan prompted China to take a harder line. Trump roiled Chinese sensibilities Friday by taking a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — the first such call since then-President Jimmy Carter broke off relations with the island in 1979 and a sharp reversal to decades of following the so-called “One China” policy.

During the subsequent Syria debate, China’s U.N. envoy, Liu Jieyi, struck an uncharacteristically tough tone with his American and British counterparts after they questioned China’s motives for the veto.

Michele Sison, a senior U.S. official, accused China and Russia of cynically using their veto to demonstrate that “they don’t want the suffering of eastern Aleppo to end.”

Liu fired back, suggesting that U.S. military intervention in the region was at the root of the problem. “How did the situation in Syria come about, and how did the problems that other countries in the Middle East are dealing with reach the point where they are today?” he asked. “The historical record is very clear. Every member of the council is very well-aware of that. It cannot be changed by distorting the positions of some countries on the council.”

Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., also jumped into the fray.

“Despite repeated pronouncements against politicization and in favor of dialogue, China has chosen to side with Russia — a party to the conflict,” he told the council Monday. He said Beijing and Moscow’s veto came “because of their long-standing, misplaced faith in a despot who has killed nearly half a million of his own people, who has sanctioned the murder of civilians as they flee the bombed-out ruins of Aleppo — a despot who would rather reduce Syria to rubble than to negotiate an overdue peace.”

The statement elicited a sharply worded response from Liu, who asked his British counterpart to cease “poisoning the atmosphere” in the Security Council.

“I would like to ask the representative of the United Kingdom what right he has to distort the position of other countries.… Today is not the first time he has done that, and I hope that such abuse will not be repeated in the future,” Liu said.

Corrections, Dec. 8, 2016: No sitting U.S. president has spoken with a Taiwanese leader since President Jimmy Carter broke off relations with Taiwan in 1979. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that this diplomatic gag order dated to Richard Nixon’s administration. Also, Michele Sison is the U.S. deputy representative to the United Nations. A previous version of this article misspelled her first name.

Source: Foreign Policy “Was China’s Latest U.N. Veto Payback for Trump Bluster on Taiwan, Trade?”

Note: This is Foreign Policy’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


4 Comments on “Was China’s Latest U.N. Veto Payback for Trump Bluster on Taiwan, Trade?”



    When the US dollar collapses, and I wonder what will make it collapse since Washington forces all her major trading partners to hold trillions and billions of US dollars in the form of treasury notes thus propping up the US dollar which in reality is worth next to nothing NOW.

    Europe and her allies in particular, accept their political duty to prop up the US dollar without question, because these careerist politicians are in the game for their own glory, status and wealth. And the U.S. gang leader ensures they will be amply rewarded when they retire. Non allies in contrast are threatened or attacked .. like Gadaffi and Sadam Hussein and killed .. when they moved away from the USD.

    The illusion of this acceptance of this piece of IOU paper, of having value and worth, is further propped up by the rigging of the gold and silver value in terms of US dollar by the Federal Reserve Bank and her owners – the American big banks. The value of gold and silver in US dollar, by any measure a yardstick of the value of the US dollar, should be at a very high rate since the US government is basically bankrupt with no money in its treasury but plenty of treasury bills owing to foreign governments. The current USD 19 trillion outstanding debt – more than US’s GDP – along with it ongoing huge annual trade deficits of hundreds of billions, and continuing huge non productive expenditure on its military and other government services, says, by Wall Street and LSE standard, this is a country you should avoid doing business with and because its promissory note – the U.S. dollar is worthless!

    In other words, every country should keep their own currency if their economy and finances are well managed and steer clear of the US dollar. No need to buy gold or silver. The high price in gold or silver is only relative to the U.S. dollar which has basically, in view also of the “quantitative easing” exercise, should be zero if not negative value. Every country should get out of the US dollar. How Washington managed to keep USD afloat, really is puzzling but as one documentary explained, the treasury issues and the Fed buys and resell it back to the treasury .. nothing short of a huge scam. Which means the US government is just one huge criminal money launderer. Or a magician creating an artificial demand for US dollar thereby preserving its value by sleigh of hand? Which nevertheless is still criminal if not unethical.

    Whatever, the future is clear – Russia, Iran, Syria, China, and Lebanon are at the forefront of fighting for the real world economy unlike the criminal financial scam currently being orchestrated by Washington backed by its military. Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Rodrigo Duterte, Assad, Sadam Hussein, Gadaffi, and other world leaders had the courage to call out the U.S. for what it is. Washington has a tight grip on Europe and Japan to ensure nationalist governments – whether from the right or left – do not come into power for if all these nationalist governments and their erudite leaders decide they don’t want to accept that worthless US dollar any more, there goes the US and its imminent collapse.

    Which is why the U.S. Establishment was and is still fighting Russia and her allies so hard. It’s more than just geopolitics. They are fighting to preserve a lie that keeps them in power, control and questionable wealth. Once people knows the truth and decide they will no longer accept the scam being perpetrated by Washington and force their governments to move away from America and the US dollar, there goes the collapse of the U.S. Empire.

    Has it started already with Mr Trump or will he not survive to ruin the criminal bankrupt American Empire of lies and fraud?


  2. alking1957 says:

    Personally i think China has been too nice to the western hegemonic powers for too long in the UN. Its time to clearly veto and raise objections when it harms chinas or world peace. I strongly recommend all readers watch the video “the coming war on china” on RT


    • Steve says:

      US has been provoking China into a war since the Hu Jintao era and especially now under President Xi. The US knows that the Chinese will rise to the Zenith militarily, economically and politically. No government in this age will be able to match China’s governance. The West especially US are very concerned with China’s future dominance.

      However, I strongly believe that our earth planet will be governed by superpower countries or an alliance of powerful nations because the weaker countries has no chance of survival on its own accord. For example, it can be SCO inclusive of great power countries like Russia, Iran, China, India and maybe NATO inclusive of US and so on. Its very difficult for any future individual country to aspire on its own merits like China.

      It will become a much more hegemonic world.


  3. Steve says:

    As the saying, When push comes to shove, unfortunately sides are always taken….So, choose wisely. China and Russia are the wise men of East Asia. Or the newly formed East Asian alliance to break the US hegemonism