Peru defends China as good trade partner after US warnings

Peru’s Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros gestures to media after Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks during APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

Marco Aquino February 7, 2018

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s trade minister defended China as a good trade partner on Tuesday, after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin American countries against excessive reliance on economic ties with the Asian powerhouse.

Eduardo Ferreyros said Peru’s 2010 trade liberalization deal with China had allowed the Andean nation of about 30 million people to post a $2.74 billion trade surplus with Beijing last year.

“China is a good trade partner,” Ferreyros told foreign media, as Tillerson met with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Lima, a stop on Tillerson’s five-nation Latin American tour. “We’re happy with the results of the trade agreement.”

The remarks were the Peruvian government’s first signal since Tillerson’s warning that it does not share Washington’s concerns about growing Chinese influence in the region.

Before kicking off his trip to Latin America on Friday, Tillerson suggested that China could become a new imperial power in the region, and accused it of deploying unfair trade practices.

“I appreciate advice, no matter where it comes from. But we’re careful with all of our trade relations,” Ferreyros said, when asked about Tillerson’s remarks.

Ferreyros also praised Peru’s trade relationship with Washington, despite a trade deficit with the United States. “I‘m not afraid of trade deficits,” Ferreyros said.

Since China first overtook the United States as Peru’s biggest trade partner in 2011, thanks mostly to its appetite for Peru’s metals exports, bilateral trade has surged and diplomatic ties have tightened.

Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, made a point of visiting China before any other nation on his first official trip abroad as president in 2016.

Under former president Barack Obama, the United States had hoped to counter China’s rise in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, which includes large parts of Latin America, with the sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal known as the TPP.

While President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP upon taking office, the 11 remaining signatories, including Peru and Japan, have struck a similar deal that they plan to sign without the United States in March.

Tillerson, who left Peru for Colombia on Tuesday, said on Monday that Trump was open to evaluating the benefits of the United States joining the so-called TPP-11 pact in the future, which Ferreyros called “a good sign.”

All countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, were welcome to join TPP-11, Ferreyros said. “But the deal has closed and countries that want to join obviously can’t renegotiate the whole agreement,” he added.

Reporting By Marco Aquino, Writing By Mitra Taj, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters “Peru defends China as good trade partner after US warnings”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Latin America should not rely on China: U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson

Reuters Staff February 2, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin American countries on Thursday against excessive reliance on economic ties with China, saying the region did not need new imperial powers.

Tillerson, in a speech ahead of a visit to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica, also said Russia’s growing presence in the region was “alarming as well.”

“Today China is getting a foothold in Latin America. It is using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit; the question is at what price,” Tillerson said at the University of Texas at Austin en route to Mexico.

Tillerson said China was now the largest trading partner with Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru and said strong institutions and accountable governments were needed to secure sovereignty against “potential predatory actors” arriving in their region.

“While this trade has brought benefits, the unfair trading practices used by many Chinese have also harmed those countries’ manufacturing sectors, generating unemployment and lowering wages for workers,” the U.S. Secretary of State said.

“Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people,” he said. “China’s state-led model of development is reminiscent of the past. It doesn’t have to be this hemisphere’s future.”

Tillerson said Russia had continued to sell arms and military equipment to unfriendly governments that “do not share or respect democratic values.”

“Our region must be diligent to guard against far-away powers that do not reflect the fundamental values shared in this region,” he said.

“The United States stands in vivid contrast. We do not seek short term deals with lop-sided returns,” Tillerson said.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool

Source: Reuters “Latin America should not rely on China: U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

North Korea ready to open direct talks with US, says Russia’s Sergei Lavrov

  • Pyongyang ‘wants above all to talk to the US about guarantees for its security
  • Lavrov says he informed Rex Tillerson in Vienna on Thursday

North Korea is open to direct talks with the US over their nuclear standoff, according to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said he passed that message to his counterpart, Rex Tillerson, when the two diplomats met in Vienna on Thursday.

There was no immediate response from Tillerson but the official position of the state department is that North Korea would have to show itself to be serious about giving up its nuclear arsenal as part of a comprehensive agreement before a dialogue could begin.

Lavrov conveyed the apparent offer on the day a top UN official, Jeffrey Feltman, met the North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, in Pyongyang, during the first high-level UN visit to the country for six years. Feltman is an American and a former US diplomat, but the state department stressed he was not in North Korea with any message from Washington.

“We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations,” Lavrov said at an international conference in Vienna, according to the Interfax news agency. “Our American colleagues, [including] Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”

The diplomatic moves come amid an increased sense of urgency to find a way of defusing the tensions over North Korea’s increasingly ambitious nuclear and missile tests. The standoff reached a new peak on 29 November, when North Korea tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-15, capable of reaching Washington, New York and the rest of the continental United States. The missile launch followed the test of what was apparently a hydrogen bomb in September.

Source: The Guardian “North Korea ready to open direct talks with US, says Russia’s Sergei Lavrov”

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

Non-Moron’s Advice to Moron: Replace Asia-Pacific with Indo-Pacific

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

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 Switches to Indo-Pacific to Contain China’s Rise

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, meets Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi on Thursday. Photo: Xinhua

I have described in my previous posts the unqualified failure of Obama’s pivot to Asia in containing China:

Its intervention with China’s disputes with China’s neighbors resulting in China’s construction and militarization of artificial islands and winning over the Philippines. Now, the South China Sea can be regarded as China’s lake.

America’s only hope of having Vietnam confronting China has been lost as Vietnam has mended fence with China.

SCMP says in its report “Beijing and Hanoi try to ease South China Sea tensions as Xi Jinping prepares for tussle with Trump for influence in region” yesterday that China and Vietnam have reached agreement to manage their disputes in the South China Sea.

SCMP quotes China’s Assistant foreign minister Chen Xiaodong as saying, “Both sides will uphold the principle of friendly consultations and dialogue to jointly manage and control maritime disputes, and protect the bigger picture of developing Sino-Vietnam relations and stability in the South China Sea.”

What he said was confirmed by the Vietnamese side.

SCMP says, “In a meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Hanoi on Thursday (November 2), Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said both sides should avoid actions that would complicate the dispute.

It is only natural for Vietnam to do so, given its close economic relations with China.

“China’s Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Friday that China would seek to deepen economic cooperation with Vietnam, adding that its investments in the country had reached US$150 billion this year, ” said SCMP in the report.

Previously, Vietnam wanted to diversify its economic reliance through Obama’s TPP, but Trump has scrapped TPP and dashed Vietnam’s hope to pieces.

Judging by what White House Chief Staff John Kelly said about China in his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham, Trump seems to have no intention to contain China. However, lots of influential Americans are deep in Thucydides Trap and want very much to contain China.

Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has visited India to establish alliance with India to contain China, especially to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative.

That is why according to SCMP, the US has begun to use the term “Indo-Pacific”. Yes, containing China in the South China Sea has failed but US and Indian navies can cut China’s trade lifelines in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

That will force China to conduct arms race with the US in earnest as China regard it as a threat. However, the US regards China’s efforts to make its military strong as a threat so that the two countries will be engaged in arms race in earnest. Can Xi Jinping and Trump replace the arms race with win-win cooperation?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at

US, India Join Force to Block China’s Belt and Road Initiative

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi this week after a stopover in Afghanistan and before heading to India. Washington has been critical of Pakistan’s links to terrorist groups. Photo: AFP

Clinton was the first to fall into Thucydides Trap in starting containment of China by interference with China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea. She was joined by Obama, who began his pivot to Asia to encourage China’s neighbors to contend with China in the South China Sea. Philippines’ President Aquino thought he could exploit US pivot to force China to give up its claims to the islands, reefs and sea areas there. However, China would even fight a war to protect its rights and interests while the US has no rights or interests to protect in the South China Sea, the US refrained from fighting. As a result, US plan to contain China in the South China Sea has entirely failed.

To avoid complete loss of its rights and interests in the South China Sea to a rich and strong China, Aquino’s successor President Duterte seeks friendship with China and has even been putting an end to Philippines’ reliance on its long-term ally the US. The loss of an ally proves Obama’s stupidity in containing China.

At the beginning, ASEAN members told the US and China that they would not take side between the two giants. US failure has made them take Chinese side. According to SCMP’s report “Lull in South China Sea tensions brings joint Asean-China naval drill closer” on October 28, “After adopting the framework on the proposed code of conduct in the South China Sea in Manila in August, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China attained yet another milestone this month. On the sidelines of the Asean defence ministers’ meeting in the Philippine city of Clark, they agreed to aim for an inaugural joint maritime exercise between their navies next year.”

The US has lost not only the Philippines but also the entire ASEAN.

US President Trump adopts the policy of “American first” so that he does not want to contain China as long as China is willing to help him deal with North Korea and make trade concessions. However, lots of Americans including the vested interests represented in US congress remain deep in Thucydides Trap.

US magazine Foreign Policy published Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper’s article “Washington Has a Bad Case of China ADHD” on October 27 that precisely shows that the two US security experts have fallen deep in Thucydides Trap. The article says in its subtitle, “China is the biggest threat to the U.S.-led global order. But America keeps getting distracted.” The writers, both being US Asian security experts accuse US presidents’ failure to contain China and describes it as a bad case of their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

They accused China of unfair trade, stealing US technology, etc. China is a WTO member. If it is found to conduct unfair trade, the US can complain to WTO and if WTO finds US complaint justified, it will punish China. Facts have proved that the US has indeed lodged some complaints. WTO rejected some but found some justified and punished China. There have been no incidents that China disobeys WTO’s final decisions.

As for the accusation about technology, perhaps Chinese hackers have indeed stolen some US technology, but most of the technology is military one. Such military espionage is common practice of most countries including the US. China has indeed obtained some technology from some Western firms through quite a few joint venture arrangements. That is not illegal.

Moreover, US-led global order has been developed by the US for its own interests. When the US finds such order unfavorable to its interests, it does not observe the order developed by it. For example, the US has been much by benefited by globalization in exploiting other countries’ cheap labor and exporting its capital to make money abroad. Pizza Hut, McDonald, Kentucky Fried Chicken, General Motors, etc. are making big money in China due to globalization. Now it finds globalization unfavorable for US jobs so that it opposes globalization.

I would like to ask: What is US global order globalization or isolation?

The US does not regard UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as global order as it is not desirable for its own interest; therefore, US Congress refuses to ratify it. However it wants China to observe even the arbitration award wrongly based on the Convention because it is desirable for the US to contain China. What double standards!

Since US-led global order serves its own interests at the expense of other countries’, why shall China respect it? China shall respect UN-led instead of US-led global order.

Facts prove that the US has no grounds at all to be unhappy with China; therefore the real cause is but as the article points out, “China has increasingly challenged U.S. leadership both in Asia and around the world, particularly in the economic domain.”

That proves that some Americans have fallen deep into the Thucydides Trap. The US as the established great power finds itself threatened to be displaced by another great power China so that it wants to contain China and even to fight a war to defeat China.

Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper though are respected as experts, have limited influence on US diplomacy.

Rex Tillerson, however, is influential on US diplomacy as US Secretary of State. Tillerson has also fallen deep into the Thucydides Trap. He calls President Trump a moron due to Trump’s diplomacy that does not pivot to containment of China.

However, Tillerson seems wiser than Obama. He realizes that the US lacks the strength to contain China in the South China Sea and even if the US succeeds in containing China in the South China Sea, the US still cannot hinder China’s rise as China does not depends on the South China Sea for its rise.

Tillerson seems to know where China’s Achilles’ heel is. He sees that China’s win-win cooperation with other countries through its Belt and Road initiative will greatly facilitate China’s access to the global market and boosts China’s economic growth. He also has the keen vision to perceive that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the most important Belt and Road project. It will provide China with connection to the Middle East and even Europe without sailing across the Indian Ocean.

Moreover, the Corridor will greatly boost the economic development of Pakistan and China’s vast west.

Tillerson is also wise enough to see that a rich and strong Pakistan will be India’s nightmare so that in spite of India’s long-term practice of non-alliance, there is potential for an alliance between the US and India to oppose the Corridor so as to contain the rise of China, which India also fears.

That was why he gave a speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” before his visit to India aimed at forging such a relationship.

In the speech, he said that the US needs to collaborate with India to prevent the Indo-Pacific from becoming a region of disorder, conflict and predatory economies, hinting US want India’s cooperation in containing China but refrain from naming China.

When CSIS President John J. Hamre asked him to be more specific, Tillerson said, “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. They don’t often create the jobs, which infrastructure projects should be tremendous job creators in these economies, but too often foreign workers are brought in to execute these infrastructure projects. Financing is structured in a way that makes it very difficult for them to obtain future financing and oftentimes has very subtle triggers in the financing that results in financing default and the conversion of debt to equity. So this is not a structure that supports the future growth of these countries.”

He hinted that the countries that have taken loans from China that they cannot repay according to their current financial strength will become insolvent and lose their sovereignty as they will be forced to obey China.

He fails to mention that China takes great risks in financing the construction of infrastructures in the countries in the Silk Road Belt and along the Silk Road and such finances are not attached with any political conditions.

The Soviet Union provided free aids to its satellite states to keep them obey it, but was finally crushed by the financial burdens. The US has found the burdens to protect its allies too heavy so that American people elected Trump to carry out the policy of “America first”. Shall China be so stupid as to follow their examples of failures in making other countries obey China?

China pursues its long-term goal in taking the financial risks. It learns from its own experience that when a country has developed its economy with the infrastructures financed by China, it will grow rich enough to repay the debt. Moreover, China’s trade with it will grow and the country will provide China with investment opportunities. Lots of jobs will be created in those countries compared with the limited needs for skillful labor that those countries cannot supply in building the infrastructures.

Certainly, some of the countries may fail to develop their economies and become unable to repay Chinese loans. Still China is willing to take the risk as such investment is a better option than investment in US treasury bonds that China has done for years. The investment in US bonds helps fund US development of weapons to attack China. A US general has made that very clear. He said that development of B21 bomber was indispensable if the US wanted to bomb Beijing.

What China spends in financing its Belt and Road initiative even if lost is better than being used to financing US development of weapons to attack China.

Will the US really attack China? History proves that Thucydides Trap often leads to war. The US does not attack China as it is not sure that it may win the war. If China helps the US develop weapons to make the US strong enough to attack China, no one can ensure that the US will not attack China.

China must be careful. Investment in Belt and Road infrastructures may bring great returns but may even cause China to lose its investment entirely. However, investment in US bonds will only bring harms to China.

The US at least may attack Pakistan, which may involves China. SCMP says in its article “What do you get if you cross Pakistan’s Game of Thrones and China’s Belt and Road?” on October 28, “According to political analyst Nusrat Javeed, the episode (the incident of American-Canadian hostages held by Haqqani Network) was engineered by the US to embarrass Pakistan and demonstrate that the US would stage military incursions into Pakistan if the authorities there did not comply with its demands. During a brief stopover in Islamabad on Tuesday, on his way from Kabul to New Delhi this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson renewed the US’ demands of Pakistan.

“‘The secretary reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country,’ said the US embassy.”

The US may use the above as excuse to invade Pakistan in order to scrap the project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The article regards the conflict between Pakistani civilian government and military especially the military’s opposition to the project as some great problem for the project, but Pakistani military relies heavily on Chinese weapon supply so that it will certainly support the project. However great the pressure the US may place on Pakistan, the project will not be scrapped. The only way out for the US and India is to fight a war in disputed Kashmir as the Corridor goes through the area in Kashmir claimed by India.

India depends on Russia for weapon supply but Russia is China’s close ally. It certainly will not supply India with weapons for the war. US has only begun to provide India with weapons so that even if it is willing to be involved in the war, it takes time to supply India with weapons and train India military to operate the weapons.

It takes at lease a couple years for India to be ready for the war. Moreover, will India be so stupid to fight a war in both east and west fronts with Pakistan and China?

India’s Modi is very shrewd. He is exploiting the conflict between the US and China to gain from both of them. He certainly will not fight a proxy war for US interests, knowing well that the US is unable to send its army to Kashmir to join the fight.

One thing is certain: US-India alliance will push Pakistan even closer to Chinese side, making India tightly sandwiched between its two neighbors.

Article by Chan Kai Yee

Tillerson’s Diplomatic Reform to Ally with India against China

For many years, the US, as one of the two hegimons and later the only hegimon in the world, has had only allies to protect but has seldom made efforts to obtain any ally to joint force in dealing with its potential enemy. Now US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to make a diplomatic reform in earnest. According to Foreign Policy’s report “Tillerson Knocks China, Courts India Ahead of South Asia Trip” yesterday, the US now wants India to be a partner to jointly deal with their common potential enemy China.

The report says, “Tillerson offered a ‘love letter’ to New Delhi while taking direct aim at China’s ambitious plans to further deepen its influence throughout Asia.”

The US also wants to improve relations with China in order to get trade concessions from it to improve US economy; therefore, Tillerson has not shown his enmity against China especially China’s One Belt, One Road (Belt and Road) initiative openly since he took office as US Secretary of State. However, for the alliance there must be a common enemy and China happened to be a convenient target; therefore, he began to attack China’s Belt and Road initiative.

I shall say that Tillerson is indeed shrewd. I regard his efforts to win over India as a diplomatic reform as he wants to have India as a partner on equal footing, i.e. as one of the “two bookends” instead one in a partnership with the US as a bookend and the other, India, as an inner page with no importance.

Stephen Blank, a senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council, has pointed out, “every alliance has a horse and a rider.” That is certainly not true. It goes against common sense, but his words reflect US mentality about alliance that the US always regards itself as the rider and its ally as its horse. Now, Tillerson wants a partnership on equal footing instead one with the US as the rider and India as the horse. I shall praise him for his wisdom in conducting such a diplomatic reform.

Moreover, Tillerson perhaps sees China’s intention for the establishment of an Asian union with its Belt and Road initiative, but he really has no means to counter that. The report says that the United States in years past has tried and failed to advance its own development plan for a “New Silk Road” in Central Asia. However, it fails to point out that Central Asia is Russia’s sphere of influence. How can the US succeed in Central Asia when it has been containing Russia?

China’s Belt and Road succeeds in Central Asia as it has built trust with Russia and refrained to affect the politics there in order that the area remains Russia’s sphere of influence. Therefore, the Asian Union will be jointly headed by Russia and China instead of China alone. Like the EU, there will be no difference of rider and horse in the union. A union will be impossible if like the US any member wants to be the rider and treat others as horses. China and Russia have already had their Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) without choosing a leader. SCO may expand into the Asian Union.

Now, India has joined SCO as cooperation with SCO members is very important for Indian economy. In addition, China has also been making great efforts to improve relations with India while Russia is trying hard to form a Russia-China-India iron triangle to counter the US. It is interesting to see who in the end will really succeed in courting India.

Anyway such competitions of wisdom is much more interesting than military competitions.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s report, full text of which can be viewed at