There is the rumor that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calls US President Donald Trump “moron”. Trump’s success in business proves that he is certainly not a moron so that it is said that Trump challenged Tillerson to an IQ competition.
Trump is certainly not less clever than Tillerson, but Tillerson as a diplomatic professional must be wiser in diplomacy to regard Trump a moron in his profession. There have perhaps been the following conversations between the “non-moron” and “moron”.
Non-moron (referred to as “N” below): You have withdrawn from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and thus scrapped the economic arm the Obama’s pivot to Asia. Do you want to entirely scrap the pivot?
Moron (referred to as “M” below): What good is the pivot to my “America first” for our economic growth and our people’s benefits?
N. But we will lose ASEAN and the South China Sea.
M. We lost ASEAN long ago. Their economic relations with China are much closer than with us. They now even refuse to take side between China and us.
N. What about the Philippines our long-term ally?
M. We lost it long ago when they drove away us by taking back our military bases there.
N. But they need our military protection.
M. Military protection? Forget that! All the countries we protect have been taking advantage of us. We have incurred heavy costs in protecting them, but they are unwilling to share the costs. They have taken advantage of our protection to maintain incredibly low military budgets. What is the result? They are prosperous while we are heavily in debt.
N. But without the pivot we cannot contain China.
M. Why shall we contain China in the first place?
N. If we do not stop its rise, it may one day replace us as world leader.
M. Can we stop China’s rise? No, we simply cannot stop its rise unless we fight a war with it. We will suffer a lot even if we win. China may still rise after the defeat. See Japan and Germany. They rise again after being defeated.
N. Whether China can be contained or not, you have to contain it. Otherwise lots of people will be unhappy. They want us to prevent our world leadership from being taken by China.
M. Since we cannot contain China and keep on declining, we will certainly lose world leadership to China. We simply cannot help that. Instead of containing China, I want to exploit China’s rise. Its expanding market will provide us with lots of opportunities to increase our exports to China. Xi has promised on phone to help us increase export to China.
N. If you fail to do anything to contain China, you may make lots of people unhappy and thus lose votes in the next election. Moreover, our allies and friends in Asia will lose confidence in us.
M. That is perhaps true, but to make our country prosperous, I have to do so.
N. No, we shall keep containing China while exploiting its rise.
M. You call me moron. You are a moron yourself. How can we contain China while exploiting its rise? You are self-contradictory.
N. You are a moron in diplomacy. Diplomacy is always characterized by tricks. Certainly, we have to strive for better relations with China in order to exploit its rise, but we have to keep on containing China. We can do that.
M. How can we do that?
N. That’s why you need me as your secretary of state. We shall replace Obama’s hopeless Asia-Pacific strategy of pivot to Asia with an Indo-Pacific strategy to contain China. Indo-Pacific means both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, much larger than Asia-Pacific. That shows that we are expanding our containment of China to the two oceans. It will certainly please lots of people at home who want to contain China.
Moreover, we will make India, Japan and Australia happy as they are scared by China’s rise. We will conduct drills of the military of us four countries seemingly directed at China, but you will tell Xi by phone the drill is not directed at China. You will be the good guy while I will be the bad guy. That will be the game we will play to satisfy everyone.
M. There seems not enough pressure to make others believe that we are really containing China.
N. We can make that believable. We will supply India with weapons to enable it to have enough military strength in the Indian Ocean to scare China and make that believable. India has the ambition to dominate the Indian Ocean with its geographical advantages and our advanced weapons.
M. Our weapons are very expensive. Can India afford them?
N. India needs our advanced weapons for its security as it feels very much unsafe being sandwiched between China and Pakistan. Therefore, it will dedicate all its available financial resources to the purchase of our advanced weapons. Our Indo-China strategy will not only pit India against China to divert China’s attention but also enable us to make lots of money from sales of weapons.
As a result, the “non-moron” Tillerson gave a speech for US-India alliance in Indo-Pacific titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on October 18. The alliance aims at containing China but Tillerson did not make it directly clear.
CSIS CEO John J. Hamre quoted Tillerson’s words in the speech, “We need to collaborate with India to ensure the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity, so that it does not become a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics.” Then he wanted Tillerson to make clear whom the alliance is directed at by asking him “Would you – what do you see as being the example of predatory economics that we should be alert to ourselves, between us?”
Tillerson said in his reply, “We have watched the activities and actions of others in the region, in particular China, and the financing mechanisms it brings to many of these countries, which result in saddling them with enormous levels of debt.”
He made it crystal clear that US alliance with India aims at containing China so as “to ensure the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity”. He has thus played the bad guy that wants to contain China and hinder China’s Belt and Road initiative, accusing the initiative of saddling other countries with enormous level of debt.
Since then, Trump repeatedly mentioned the term “Indo-Pacific” and talked about ensuring peace, stability and growing prosperity there to give the impression that what Tillerson said about Indo-Pacific is his idea to contain China. He has thus pleased lots of people and US allies and friends.
The US Indo-Pacific initiative has made India so excited that it neglects its long-term friend Russia and has even showed US military the advanced nuclear submarine that Russia has rented it. (See Global Times report in Chinese on November 10 titled “租我核潜艇却请美军进入！俄对印度很愤慨 (Rent my nuclear submarine but invite US military to enter the submarine! Russia very much upset by India)” at http://mil.huanqiu.com/observation/2017-11/11370855.html.)
However Trump plays the good guy when he visited China to make China believe he wants to be China’s friend. That will enable him to benefit from China’s rise.
Good trick, Indo-Pacific! Make India contain China and profit by weapon sales to India in the course of the containment while the US benefiting from improved relations with China. Wonderful!
Article by Chan Kai Yee
The US instigated the Philippines to file an arbitration case at Hague and enabled the Philippines to obtain an arbitration award to entirely deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. It sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the arbitration but China was not scared. It responded with the resolution to fight a war to defend its rights and interests.
The US had to give up as it does not want a war with China for others’ rights and interests.
Entirely disappointed, Philippine President Duterte sought recovery of friendship with China at the expense of the US.
To contain China with the South China Sea disputes, US hope lies on Vietnam as China has forced it to stop drilling for oil and gas in the disputed waters and thus upset it.
However, Vietnamese media’s good response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s article on Vietnamese Communist Party’s mouthpiece quashed US hope in pitting Vietnam against China.
Seeing that no countries in Southeast China support US stance on enforcing Hague arbitration, US President Trump was wise to quickly change its stance. According to Reuters’ report “Trump offers to mediate on South China Sea” yesterday, the US has now thrown Hague arbitration award to the rubbish bin and offered its mediation or arbitration to resolve South China Sea disputes specifically the disputes between Vietnam and China when Trump met with his Vietnamese counterpart.
Trump’s offer was soon indirectly rejected by Chinese and Vietnamese communist party general secretaries Xi Jinping and Nguyen Phu Trong according to Reuters’ another report “Vietnam, China avoid quarrel over South China Sea during visit” the same day. Since quarrel is to be avoided, there certainly will be no quarrel to be resolved by mediation or arbitration.
There will in fact be no quarrel on disputes in the South China Sea when US President Trump does not interfere just like the time when Trump’s predecessor had not started his interference.
Obama interfered in order to contain China. Does Trump not want to contain China?
I will give an answer in my next post “Non-Moron’s Advice to Moron: Replacing Asia-Pacific with Indo-Pacific”.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-asia-vietnam/trump-offers-to-mediate-on-south-china-sea-idUSKBN1DC04H and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-china/vietnam-china-avoid-quarrel-over-south-china-sea-during-visit-idUSKBN1DC0P7.
SCMP says in its report “Beijing’s new Silk Road may extend to Moscow-led Eurasian union” yesterday, “China and Russia are working to connect their flagship economic diplomacy projects, a move that could potentially reduce tensions between Beijing and Moscow as they jostle for regional influence.”
China and Russia are now close allies in countering the US, but due to conflict of interests linking China’s One Belt, One Road with Russia-led Eurasian Union is difficult as Russia is afraid that China’s establishment of Silk Road economic belt in Central Asia might draw Central Asia that Russia regards as its backyard away from Russia.
That is why though China and Russian issued a joint statement on linking the two economic strategies in 2015, there has been no progress in that respect.
Now, China’s Ministry of Commerce said ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Russia visit, that the two countries would sign an agreement for a study on the feasibility of linking the two.
This blogger believes that no matter whether the study will find the linking feasible, relations between China and Russia will become closer as the strategy illiterate US is screwing up its pressure on both countries. Anyway, the alliance between the two traditional enemies would have been very difficult in the first place if Obama had not facilitated it with his pivot-to-Asia folly.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2100968/beijings-new-silk-road-may-extend-moscow-led-eurasian.
By: Aaron Mehta, March 14, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s Pacific rebalance effort — also known as the Pivot to the Pacific — effort is officially dead, according to a top State Department official.
Asked by reporters about the future of the rebalance, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton said Monday that the new administration has its own plan for the region, even if that plan has yet to take shape.
“Pivot, rebalance, etcetera — that was a word that was used to describe the Asia policy in the last administration. I think you can probably expect that this administration will have its own formulation. We haven’t really seen in detail, kind of, what that formulation will be or if there even will be a formulation,” she said
However, Thornton — speaking on the eve of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first visit to the Asia-Pacific region — stressed that the new administration remains committed to the region, even if the flavor of that commitment may change.
Source: Defense News “’Pivot to the Pacific’ is over, senior U.S. diplomat says”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Trump set to sell more arms
By Bill Gertz
March 14, 2017 5:00 am
The Obama administration blocked a $1 billion arms sale to Taiwan in December that was needed to improve the island’s defenses despite approval from the State Department and Pentagon, according to Trump administration officials.
The scuttling of the arms package was a set back for U.S. and Taiwanese efforts to bolster defenses against a growing array of Chinese missiles and other advanced weaponry deployed across the 100-mile Taiwan Strait.
The action coincided with a controversial pre-inaugural phone call Dec. 2 between then-President-elect Trump and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.
It could not be learned if the arms package, which was ready to be announced publicly in December was derailed by the Obama administration because of the phone call.
The new Trump administration is now preparing to provide more and better defensive arms to Taiwan, said administration officials familiar with internal discussions of the arms sale.
The new arms package, however, is not expected to be made public until after Trump meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month. White House officials said the meeting is set for early April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also will visit China later this month.
Taiwan is expected to be a major topic of discussion for both the summit and Tillerson’s visit.
“There’s a process for these things that’s being followed,” a White House official said of the arms package. “The Trump administration takes America’s commitment to Taiwan’s security very seriously.”
Other officials said the arms package was set for release to Taiwan and formal notification to Congress in December. But National Security Council staff officials blocked it, setting back the process of supporting Taiwan with defensive arms considerably.
The approximately $1 billion included parts and equipment needed for the Taiwan military’s ongoing modernization of its arsenal of 1980s-era F-16 jet fighters along with additional missiles.
The approved package was held up by Avril D. Haines, the Obama White House deputy national security adviser. Haines did not return an email seeking comment.
Former Obama administration spokesman Ned Price confirmed that the administration held up the arms package. He told the Washington Free Beacon that neither Haines nor others in the Obama White House “unilaterally blocked the package that was under discussions, which was relatively modest.”
“In consultation with State and DoD, the Obama administration decided not to move forward with it in the final days of the administration,” Price said, adding that one factor was that “we thought it would be a useful package for the next administration to pursue in their time because it was well-calibrated to strike the balance we typically try to achieve consistent with our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act.”
One administration official said the package also included communications, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance gear that would bolster the Taiwan military’s command and control systems.
This official said one positive aspect of the failure to send the latest arms is that pro-China officials in the U.S. government who oppose helping Taiwan will no longer be able to argue internally that the United States had fulfilled its obligations under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act with the package. The act requires the United States to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons.
“Now we can start from scratch with a truly useful arms package once the assistant secretaries are in place,” the official said, referring to working-level political appointees at the Pentagon and State Department.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment.
Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross said he does not discuss “pre-decisional matters.”
“The objective of our defense engagement with Taiwan is to ensure that Taiwan remains secure, confident, free from coercion and able to engage in a peaceful, productive dialogue to resolve differences in a manner acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Ross said, noting U.S. arms sales support that goal.
“We strongly believe that our policy has contributed to stability in the Taiwan Strait by providing Taipei with the confidence needed to pursue constructive interactions with Beijing.”
The official Taiwan government office in Washington had no comment on the arms package.
Taiwan officials are looking forward to working closely with the Trump administration in upgrading defenses. The Taiwanese are considering the development of indigenous fighter aircraft and submarines and are hoping the United States can provide technology for the arms.
Former State Department official John Tkacik said the failure to release the arms package in December was a mistake.
“It is truly alarming that the White House, in its last month, would ignore a defense transfer recommendation endorsed by both the State and Defense Departments, especially after the incoming president had already signaled his support of a strengthened security relationship with Taiwan,” Tkacik said.
Tkacik said it is likely that Obama administration officials in charge of Asia policy, after eight years of giving the Chinese free rein in Asia, were unhappy with Trump’s tough posture toward Beijing.
“If the new National Security Council can’t move forward afresh with strengthened defense supplies to Taiwan, given State and Pentagon recommendations to do it, I’m afraid the new administration will lose its momentum, like Obama’s people did, and simply resign itself to letting Beijing take over in Asia,” he assed.
Randall Schriver, a former assistant secretary of state and assistant secretary of defense, said the Trump administration should increase arms transfers to Taiwan.
“China’s growing capabilities combined with an intent to put greater pressure on Taiwan should compel us take a serious look at increasing our security assistance to Taiwan including support for its indigenous submarine program and making available a [vertical, short-take off and landing] fighter aircraft,” he said.
Rick Fisher, an expert on Asian military affairs, also voiced concern.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration would not release this final arms sales package before leaving office, but at a deeper level, that it did not exercise the leadership to accelerate this F-16 upgrade package first approved in 2011,” said Fisher, senior fellow at International Assessment and Strategy Center.
The delay in upgrading the jets means China has gained six years on deploying advanced fighters jets and next generation short and medium range ballistic missiles that threaten Taiwan.
Fisher warned that China is preparing for a possible invasion of Taiwan in early 2020 and the Trump administration should provide new military capabilities for the island to help deter any Chinese attack.
“We are really up against the wall; if we cannot devise the right package of fifth generation capabilities, be it new F-35 fighters, submarine technologies, new, cheap, long range anti-ship cruise missiles and energy weapons, then we will face the threat of Chinese invasion of Taiwan perhaps as soon as the early 2020s,” Fisher said.
Taiwan in January began upgrading its force of 144 F-16s. The jets will be outfitted with active electronically scanned array fire-control radar that analysts say can detect radar-evading stealth aircraft.
New avionics equipment also is being added along with advanced AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
The last arms package for Taiwan was announced in December 2015 and was worth $1.83 billion. It included two Perry-class Frigates, Javelin anti-tank missiles, TOW anti-tank missiles, and amphibious assault vehicles. Command and control hardware, F-16 gear, Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems and Stinger surface-to-air missiles were also part of that package.
In December, China’s military conducted a show of force with a squadron of jet fighters and a bomber that circled Taiwan Dec. 10.
U.S. EP-3 and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft shadowed the Chinese jets during the incident, along with a long-range RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft.
The Chinese saber rattling against Taiwan coincided with Trump’s phone call with Tsai.
China also protested a provision of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill that was signed into law in December. The new law contains language calling on the Pentagon to conduct a program of senior military exchanges with Taiwan.
Current policy has limited military exchanges between U.S. and Taiwanese officers despite a requirement under the Taiwan Relations Act for the United States to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.
The phone call between Trump and Tsai in December was the first time an American president had spoken directly to Taiwan’s president in decades and prompted protests from Beijing, which views Taiwan as a break away province.
The United States does not accept China’s interpretation of the so-called One-China policy and regards the Beijing-Taipei dispute over Taiwan’s status as unresolved.
“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted Dec. 2.
Trump has taken a hard line against China, mainly over unfair trade and currency practices. After the Dec. 2 call, he also suggested the United States might abandon the One China policy and adopt more favorable Taiwan policies.
However, Trump later reiterated U.S. support for the American interpretation of the One China Policy.
Source: Washington Free Beacon “Obama White House Blocked Needed U.S. Arms Sale to Taiwan”
Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
Trump’s friendly phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping hours before meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proves his talents in choosing the best timing in dealing with Japan and China.
As a shrewd businessman, Trump is very clear that Japan is the greatest beneficiary of Obama’s pivot to Asia as of all the countries in the world, Japan has the most earnest desire to contain China due to the war crimes it committed in China in the 1930s and 1940s. As the bitter memory of Japan’s invasion of China remains fresh in China, all Chinese people will support a war against Japan no matter how they love peace. Those who oppose the war will be regarded as traitors by most Chinese people.
Japan is lucky that Chinese leaders are wise. They want good relations with Japan and utterly oppose a war with Japan. However, if Japan provokes China, they will fight. Who knows what their successors will do! Containing China to stop its rise seems the best choice for Japanese leaders and people like Shinzo Abe whose grandparents have committed war crimes in China.
The US, however, helped China resist Japanese invasion. Chinese children are still fond of listening to stories about American pilots who volunteered to help China fight the Japanese in China’s war of resistance against Japan.
Trump knows well that the US is simply unable to contain China. Its military threat in the South China Sea has caused China to build large artificial islands as military bases to dominate the South China Sea. Containing China militarily has only given rise to an arms race with China that the US cannot afford.
Obama’s TPP aims at containing China economically, but will end up benefiting TPP members, especially Japan, at US expense.
Not only so, TPP helps Chinese President Xi Jinping overcome vested interests’ obstacles to his reform and will thus enable China to conform to TPP rules and join TPP.
Moreover, TPP’s stringent rules will push other countries, especially a rising India, closer to China economically as they want China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to counter TPP.
Now, Trump’s phone call to Xi tells Abe that the US wants to be China’s friend instead of containing China. Containing China will certainly benefit the US as it facilitates US maintenance of its world leadership. However, it is now Japan’s turn to do the hopeless dirty job.
US-China friendship means better access to Chinese and US markets respectively by the US and China. To compete with China in US market, Abe has to make concessions. As an initial sweetener, Abe has promised to invest $150 billion in the US to create 300,000 jobs. That is much better than paying more for US expense in keeping its military in Japan.
Trump’s scrapping of Obama’s pivot to Asia has the effect of pitting Japan against China and will give rise to Japan’s arms race with China.
Trump also plans to improve US relations with Russia. If he can pit Russia against China, he will be able to subdue China by diplomacy, which according to China’s gifted strategist Sun Tzu, is better than subduing by fighting.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
ABC News published an article titled “Analysis: Russia’s Far East Turning Chinese” on flood of Chinese immigration into Russia’s Far East.
Russia and China have a long history of hostility. The article says, “Russia took the territory in 1858 and 1860 with the Treaties of Aigun and Peking, respectively. Of all of the unequal treaties forced upon the Qing dynasty by outside powers in the 19th century, these are the only two China has not managed to overcome. China and Russia signed a border agreement in 1999, but the Beijing government has never formally accepted the Aigun and Peking treaties.”
The article describes Russia’s worry about Chinese illegal immigration into Russia’s Far East. In fact, those who know the history of Chinese immigration do not worry. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Chinese immigrants flooded Southeast Asia. They now dominate the economy of some countries there but have never turned those countries Chinese. Singapore people are more than 80% ethnic Chinese, but they are pro-America instead of pro-China.
However, there is indeed danger of war as lots of Chinese want a war with Russia to recover the 2 million square km of land in Russia’s Far East that China ceded to Russia under the two treaties mentioned in ABC News’ article.
Thanks to Obama, the war will be prevented as due to Obama’s pressure to contain both Russia and China, the two countries’ wise leaders have turned the two countries into good friends and indeed de facto allies with diplomacy that makes them strong enough to subdue the US with joint force.
Moreover, the diplomacy of win-win cooperation has turned potential enemies into good friends.
China follows its gifted strategist Sun Tzu’s teaching that subduing the enemy with diplomacy is better than with war. Putin seems also to have such wisdom. The two countries both turn a blind eye to the illegal immigration.
In fact Putin wants China to cooperate with it in developing Russia’s Far East as no Russians want to go there but Chinese people are fond of going there. Putin adopts the policy of allowing Chinese immigrants who have married Russian to naturalize. That will be good win-win cooperation.
Now, Putin has removed Russian border guards along Russian border with China in Russia’s Far East to allow Chinese immigrants free entry. The photo on top shows that a scarecrow is guarding the border at a border post.
Subduing the enemy with diplomacy is better than with war! Putin and Xi Jinping know that but Obama does not. I hope Trump does.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on ABC News’ article, full text of which can be viewed at http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=82969&page=1.