Donald Trump is making China great again

‘Xi Jinping reminded his audience of China’s contribution to global economic stability since the financial crisis, of an average of 30% of global growth each year.’ Photograph: POOL/Reuters

‘Xi Jinping reminded his audience of China’s contribution to global economic stability since the financial crisis, of an average of 30% of global growth each year.’ Photograph: POOL/Reuters

Isabel Hilton Friday 3 February 2017

The US president has dismayed the world; Xi Jinping has wooed it. This could be a huge win for Beijing

Two years ago, some European and US experts gathered to discuss China in an elegant English country house. The setting was seductive, but the mood was dark. Two years into Xi Jinping’s presidency, China’s politics were turning away from the liberalising trend of the previous three decades, towards a hard-edged nationalism that was discomfiting China’s immediate neighbours and their western allies.

China was getting more powerful but less friendly, squeezing foreign competition out of its internal markets, throwing its weight around the South China Sea, crushing internal dissent and enforcing loyalty to the regime.

The mostly liberal-minded scholars had assumed that the spectacular success of China’s economic opening and partial political relaxation would lead to a more open society, greater rule of law and more political inclusion. They were dismayed to discover that Xi’s mission was not to steer China towards political pluralism and tolerance, but to shore up the Communist party, in defiance of what the scholars had assumed was an inevitable trend: that an emerging middle class would always force a political opening.

If that was not going to happen, given China’s vastly increased influence in the world, a global conflict between the systems, values and norms of the pluralist, democratic United States and China’s Communist party seemed inevitable. It would be unpleasant, but nobody doubted that US values would prevail.

The group discussed whether China could succeed. What might go wrong? Would China reset the world’s economic and security arrangements in its favour? What could the US do to defend its norms and values beyond concluding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the huge US-led Pacific trade initiative, and shoring up political security guarantees to its close regional allies, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, to limit the growth of China’s influence?

The one scenario not discussed was that the US would tear up its own rules, leaving the field open to China to consolidate its dominance of the Asia Pacific and extend its global influence. Nobody even imagined such a far-fetched possibility. Donald Trump’s actions seem to have surprised Beijing as much as they have dismayed America’s allies. Now the challenge for China is how to reap the benefits and contain the inevitable damage.

In terms of international diplomacy, things are going well. It’s hard to imagine Trump quoting Thucydides, or Stephen Hawkins or Herman Hesse, or cramming references to Pandora’s box, the Peace of Westphalia and the sword of Damocles into a 58-minute plea for peace and international cooperation. Such a carefully crafted speech might have been delivered by previous US presidents, since it paid fulsome homage to the core values the US has promoted since 1945. But this was delivered by the general secretary of the Chinese Communist party and president of the China, to an audience at the United Nations in Geneva in January. China’s proposition to the world, Xi said, was to “build a community of shared future for mankind and achieve shared and win-win development”.

Such a claim might previously have encountered polite scepticism. Today, it receives an almost uncritical welcome.

Trump has charged China with “raping” the US, a word he might have avoided for other reasons. Xi reminded his audience of China’s contribution to global economic stability since the financial crisis, of an average of 30% of global growth each year. “In the coming five years,” he predicted, “China will import $8tn of goods, attract $600bn of foreign investment, make $750bn of outbound investment, and Chinese tourists will make 700 million outbound visits.”

Xi’s commitment to global capitalism is convincing, given China’s dependence on exports. More audacious was his contention that “we always put people’s rights and interests above everything else and have worked hard to advance and uphold human rights”. Human rights organisations were excluded from the occasion.

But if Xi’s claim is contestable, it pales in comparison with the exaggerations, false claims and threats by Trump and his circle.

There will be few winners in a world of escalating tensions and disruption. China would not have picked this moment for a fight with the US. But if it can consolidate its own economic arrangements in the region and beyond, using its economic muscle to its diplomatic and political advantage while escaping the burden of censure that its internal repression has provoked to date, it will be a huge win for China.

Trump’s singular achievement in his short time as president has been to trash US soft power assets and make China’s regime look less objectionable. Before Trump, even as western countries scrambled to access the Chinese market, they regarded Beijing with scepticism. Why should anyone believe the global message of a regime that does not tolerate dissent or domestic challenges?

But that is now a question we must begin to ask of the US. China’s official untruths seem modest in comparison with those of a man who can barely get through a sentence without a lie. For Beijing, the question now is how far an attempt to replace US influence is possible or desirable. For US allies, the question is how far should we wish Beijing success?

Source: The Guardian “Donald Trump is making China great again”

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


13 Comments on “Donald Trump is making China great again”

  1. Mad Max says:

    A fair response to Mr Matthis would be this : Why are you having 400 military bases and installations in the Western Pacific with missiles targeted at China?

    Why are you still in Korea when China has removed itself from South Korea?

    Why are undemocratically in Okinawa when the Okinawans want you gone? The same for South Korea.

    The Duterte Government of Philippines asked the U.S. to leave, why are you still there, throwing your weight?

    Seems Amerika is an illegal and criminal occupying colonial force here in East Asia. If it does not trim down its forces and begone, then it is right for countriea in the region to fight you and remove you and your puppet government in Japan.


  2. Steve says:

    It is true that Trump is a shrewd liar. He refused to declare his income tax, setting a precedence for all Americans wishing to be Senators, Ministers and President. He lies over China’s devaluation of the Yuan for not seeking US permission. The people’s bank of China don’t need US treasury permission to sell it’s currency and vice versa. He says that China is raping the US of jobs and earnings. It was the US extortion company tax that was chasing local manufacturers outsourcing to places that is cheaper, reduce the tax burden and consequently, people losing their jobs. Trump is not an economist, but a highly successful real estate investor.

    I don’t believe that President Trump can do any better economically than his predecessor. I believe that China will succeed much more economically and in subduing US leadership worldwide. Many countries will support China’s hyper President leadership for direction in global power, climate change and FTAs. The US will decline further in 2017.


    • R30David says:

      How can China brag about being great when its cities are filled with choking pollution and thousands of Chinese citizens die daily due to pollution caused diseases?


      • Simon says:

        Get your fact right. China never bragged about being great. Its inherited the world leadership because its people get down to the businees of hard work while other countries stepped aside because they have not earned that rights. As a result of being the factory of the world it brought with it the world’s pollution. China might even helped your country have clean air so you should have every reason to consider China selfless in that endeavor.

        Trump desperately want a return of dirty air so that his country can once again be industrialised. That how important it is to be great again!


      • chankaiyee2 says:

        Please do not spread fake news here. There is pollution in Chinese cities but there have been no thousands of Chinese citizens dying daily due to pollution. If you keeps on spreading fake news, I will delete your comment.


      • Joseph says:

        This chap must confused China to India. But it is understandable, given the reporting of Western media. Although the pollution in Chinese cities are a concern, they acknowledge it and do something about it. In India, years of denials has pushed the pollution level to lethal. People are dropping dead in New Delhi streets like it is Bophal all over again. But as India is a Western pet nation, the Western media would cover little or none of it. When America was at its prime in the 1980s, people would drop dead in cities such as Detroit because of pollution. And instead of cleaning it, the heavily-lobbied American local government would blame it on pneumonia. The only thing that clean those pollutions are now those cities are bankrupt. America being bankrupt may be bad for its people, but it is really a blessing for its environment. It’s doubtful that if American industry is to rise again, they will not damage their environment all over again. After all, China’s recent pollution-cleaning frenzy has spelled doom to its coal industry, and Australian coal industry as well. China is willing to sacrifice its lucrative coal industry for greater good, but the cash-strapped Australian is taking it very hard.


        • Mad Max says:

          Imagine a country with close to 50% of its people without access to toilets. You can imagine the pollution in the earth, water, and air. And that’s not counting the contributions from their holy cows and goats. Talk about pollution and comparing India with China!

          One salient truth about India is that it IS a failing state. So don’t even try to compare itself with China or any other country. It is a big country failing big time. You cannot believe any of their self glorifying propaganda.


        • Steve says:

          Well Said


      • ChinKwaiLaan says:

        Please do some research before you post distorted facts and falsehood. China has a problem with pollution but doesn’t rank high globally.
        Please see for example:
        Excerpted from this article:
        “Of the 3,000 cities in the WHO’s air quality database, the most polluted at the time of measurement was Onitsha, a fast-growing city in Nigeria, which recorded roughly 30 times more than the WHO’s recommended levels of PM10 particles. Peshawar in Pakistan was in second place, followed by Zabol in Iran.

        These cities are mostly located in rapidly growing economies in the Middle East and South East Asia. Four of the 20 urban areas with the worst air quality at the time of measurement were in Nigeria, three were in Saudi Arabia, three were in India, and two in Iran.

        China, which has been working to tackle its air pollution problem, is the only country with just one city on the most polluted list.”
        Half of the world’s most polluted cities are in India.

        Half of USA suffers from dangerously high level of pollution. See
        Thousands in China do not die daily due to pollution.


      • Steve says:

        What a Scumbag.


  3. Simon says:

    The author believes that Western governments particularly America has higher standards and tells the truth. That could’nt be more further from the truth.
    The invasion of Iraq was based on false testimony, it was a war crime.
    China may not always come out being transparent but that is done for the sake of social stability Western government are in it political gains and filling the pockets of their mates. The revolving door systems are well known and accepted corruption in Western government circles but in China such practice would now land the rich and powerful in prison.

    If the West is such a successful and honest system then why is China remain the longest continous civilisation on earth and in 2017 took over the beacon as world leader?