Can China Take Up World Leadership that the US Has WaivedPosted: June 4, 2017
Trump’s withdraw from Paris agreement in addition to his withdraw from TPP and repeated criticism of NATO gave the world clear signals that the US has waived world leadership that it is unable to afford.
That has given rise to great concerns among US allies and friends in Asia. Trump’s Defense Secretary Mattis tried hard to ease their concerns at recent Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore.
Washington Post quotes Mattis as saying in its report “In Asia, Mattis addresses concerns about North Korea and China — and Trump’s agenda” that America was happy at one time “between our two oceans, (meaning with isolation)” but realized after the war “what a crummy world if we all retreat inside our own borders”.
He has to quote Winston Churchill’s words in World War II: Bear with us. Once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing.
Did Mattis mean that the US is not doing the right thing now and telling US allies and friends that the US will return when they have exhausted all possible alternatives?
Will that be too late for them? Certainly those words cannot ease their concerns.
They cannot ease Mattis’ own concerns either that China will replace the US as world leader if the US waives its world leadership.
Therefore, to sow discord between them and China, Washington Post quotes him as saying, “We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law. We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo.”
The problems with him are that China has not been doing anything to hurt their interests, but on the country, they have been and are being benefited by their relations with China. It seems to him that many of them will finally accept China’s leadership. The Philippines’ switch to China is a typical example.
However, can China afford world leadership that the US cannot afford?
With a smaller economy China has to take care of a population of 1.3 billion much larger than the US. China is now pursuing win-win cooperation with other countries to benefit itself while benefiting others as proved by its One Belt, One Road initiative. Unlike the US, China has taken no burden to provide military protection for any country in the world.
That proves Chinese leaders’ wisdom. Trump is wise to waive the leadership as he knows very clear that the US not only cannot afford the leadership but is also unable to make others follow its leadership. ASEAN members’ clear statements that they will not take side between China and US prove that.
Lots of Americans are unhappy with Trump’s actions. Let them bring down Trump and continue to take the burden of world leadership until the US is bankrupt.
That will not hurt China unless China is stupid to take over America’s burden.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Post’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/06/03/in-asia-mattis-addresses-concerns-about-north-korea-and-china-and-trumps-agenda/?utm_term=.96802a557290&wpisrc=nl_most-draw16&wpmm=1.