Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative is helping China gain clout across the globe, including in the Middle East, Isaac Kfir writes.
China is expanding its reach not just in the Asia-Pacific, but globally.
What underpins China’s global push is President Xi Jinping’s commitment to transform China into a fully-developed, industrial country and to advance Chinese power in the world. Xi rejects former-President Deng Xiaoping’s ‘hide and abide’ approach, as China has now crossed into a ‘new era’. For Xi, it is time for China to have a place under the sun.
Xi’s tool of choice is strategic investments. This is a wise tactic, as it allows for a soft approach to influencing international politics that is less likely to cause anger. This can be contrasted with the tactics of Putin, who has annexed Crimea and embedded Russia in Syria, Iran, Libya and other conflict zones.
While encouraging Chinese investment abroad, Xi is also making sure that such investment is strategic and of benefit to China. This is why on 18 August 2017, the Chinese Government introduced new rules to control Chinese overseas mergers and acquisitions.
More on this: China is reshaping the liberal order, and it’s for the better
The rules outline three types of investment: banned, restricted, and encouraged. Military, gambling and sex industries all fall under banned investments. Restricted investments include such industries as real estate and hotels, film and entertainment, sports, and those that do not comply with environmental standards. Meanwhile the government encourages investment in industries that advance China’s technology, research and development, oil, mining, agriculture and fishing sectors.
At the centre of Xi’s vision is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a $US 1 trillion-plus program of infrastructure investment in more than 60 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, including those that historically were not much interested in China.
One example is Israel.
For decades, Sino-Israeli relations were trapped by Beijing’s reliance on Arab oil and its leadership position in the non-aligned world.
China’s open door policy and the Oslo Peace Accords freed Beijing and Jerusalem to develop trade relations. Within a matter of decades, Chinese investment in Israel had increased substantially: in 1992, when full diplomatic relations were established, Chinese investments stood at US $50 million. By 2016, this figure had risen to US $16.5 billion.
Chinese investors have bought into the Israeli high-tech sector, formed joint ventures, hosted a trade conference and managed construction projects in Israel, including port and tunnel building. This trade relationship is likely to improve further, as Chinese investors adopt a cautious approach to investment in the United States due to President Trump’s anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Israeli politicians are very much in favour of improving relations with the East Asian power, as Israeli Economic Minister Eli Cohen said in September. Israeli companies also welcome Chinese investment, as there is concern that Trump’s tax reform would require Israeli start-ups to either register as US entities, or move some of their operations to the US in order to become eligible for tax rebates.
As part of the Israel-China corridor, there are discussions about the potential of a ‘Red-Med’ railway. The plan would connect Eilat, a port on the north of the Red Sea, to the port of Ashdod in the Mediterranean, while also developing Eilat to accommodate more cargo ships. In 2014, a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Company (Pan-Mediterranean Engineering Ltd.) won a US $950 million tender to build a port in southern Ashdod. The Chinese will build docks, warehouses and jetties. A year later, the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) won a US $2 billion tender to operate the new Haifa Port for 25 years. The Chinese will begin to run the port in 2021.
Since August 2016, the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) has owned Greece’s largest seaport, Piraeus. The ‘Red-Med’ rail line would make it easier for China to ship cargo to Piraeus and then into the European Union, bypassing the Suez Canal, which is dealing with increased traffic.
The chairman of SIPG, Chen Xuyuan, captured the strategic importance of these infrastructure investments: “Investing in Haifa will help strengthen relations between the Shanghai port and other ports along the maritime silk road and form a closer trade network between the Shanghai port and ports in Europe.”
In March 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong announced the start of negotiations for a China-Israel Free Trade Agreement. The Agreement is linked to Xi Jinping’s BRI project, as once signed, it would cover such issues as standardisation, the removal of trade barriers, and areas of bilateral cooperation in the technological and economic sectors.
When looking at Sino-Israeli relations, it becomes abundantly clear that Israelis are not overly concerned about the prospect of China using its financial leverage in the country to meddle in their political system. This could be for several reasons.
First is hubris; the Israelis may believe they can prevent Chinese political interference. Second is a lack of interest; it is probable that China sees no benefit in getting involved in the complexities of Israeli politics. Third, Netanyahu is very secure politically, and is unlikely to be worried about China’s growing financial clout given that he has been actively courting their investments.
This no doubt gives Beijing an element of comfort in the growing relationship. The Chinese must have noticed that when Netanyahu wants something, as was the case with the recent controversy over Israel’s gas fields, he is willing to change the rules to get his way.
So what lessons can we draw from Israel about China’s growing global power?
One is that Beijing can build influence across the international system because the US is retreating from key strategic areas. This notably includes the Middle East, where the Russians have also made substantial inroads.
Another is that when it comes to international relations, the Trump Administration is clearly out of its element. While Xi Jinping advances his global strategy, Trump is opting to engage in futile, bellicose rhetoric that only alienates allies.
Although the Chinese are unlikely to undermine Israeli-American relations, especially as long as Trump is in the White House, they are penetrating an area that they had no access to, establishing a presence not only in Israel but also in the Eastern Mediterranean.
China is challenging American hegemony everywhere, and not just in the Asia-Pacific.
Source: Policy Forum “China everywhere: Israel is yet another example of Beijing’s growing global influence
Note: This is Policy Forum’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
In my post “From Unrequited Love to China Can Say No” on January 10, I mentioned US efforts to encircle China when it began its pivot to Asia. The then US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta specifically visited India and Vietnam in his tour of Asia in 2012 to establish the encirclement. As both India and ASEAN members including Vietnam had territorial disputes with China, Panetta was quite sure of the success of encirclement. However, the encirclement was soon broken by China’s diplomacy.
Encirclement of Russia, a Byproduct of Encirclement of China
Like German strategists in World War II, US strategists have miscalculated.
Germany knew well that it should not fight a war on both eastern and western sides, but after it defeated France in its western front, it attacked the Soviet Union in its eastern side and finally lost the war for that.
Now, in formulating the new strategy of “return to Asia”, the United States neglects the potential of Russia, the major part of the disintegrated Soviet Union with the ambition to succeed the Soviet Union as another number one in the world, an equal rival to the United States.
However, at that time, Russia was in dire predicament. All former Soviet constituent and satellite states in Europe had been or were being drawn away by the EU. Its influence in Europe had thus been greatly reduced.
In the strategic areas for its security in the Middle East, the West led by the United States have been cutting Russian ties with the countries there, first Iraq, then Libya and finally Syria. It seemed that Russian influence would remain only in Asia mainly in India and Vietnam.
If by its return to Asia, the US has substituted its influence for Russia’s in India and Vietnam and subdued China by encircling it, then it will be Russia’s turn to be closely encircled by the US.
Breaking the Encirclement
Immediately after US change in strategy, China altered its strategy. It used its veto to help Russia keep its influence in Syria. That marked the commencement of a Cold War alliance between China and Russia in countering the US. Through prolonged efforts, the two countries have built up mutual trust now.
Russia has used its influence for improvement of Chinese relations with India and Vietnam as proved by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visits to India and Vietnamese President’s visit to China.
The western and northern parts of the encirclement have been broken.
The breakthrough in easing tension between China and Vietnam has indicated China’s willingness to cooperate with South China Sea claimants in fishing and extracting oil and gas in the disputed waters. As a result, both Malaysia and Brunei refrain from joining the encirclement.
As Chine had used its influence in North Korea to ease tension between South and North Koreas, South Korea refrained from joining the US encirclement.
At that time, Taiwan’s KMT government was building up economic ties with Mainland. Even in the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, there were quite a few people who wanted to have a “one-China consensus” with the Mainland.
As a result, in 2013 there were only Japan and the Philippines that remained US allies in encircling China, not enough even to encircle China only on its east side.
When former US Defense Secretary was busy in Asia to build up US encirclement of China, he denied the obvious conclusion drawn from US actions that China was the target of US return to Asia.
What did the US say about its return to Asia in 2013? US Secretary of State John Kerry said at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on July 1, US “actions are not intended to contain or to counterbalance any one country”.
Certainly the US was not dealing with only one country. At that time the US had to deal with two countries, China and Russia and perhaps an autocracy Cold War camp to be jointly established by Russia and China that will contain Iran, North Korea and other autocracies. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization seemed to be formed for that purpose, but at that time it only contained Russia, China and a few insignificant Central Asian countries. Now, India and Pakistan have joined the organization while Iran has shown its interest in participation; therefore, the organization has great potential to become a Cold War camp to oppose the US.
By providing China with advanced weapons and technology, Russia will get lots of funds from China for development of a strong military to recover Soviet Union’s position as a rival to the US.
In addition, Russia and China have been conducting their joint naval drill on an increasingly larger scale. They have become de facto allies.
Due to the de facto alliance, Russia has become bold in Ukraine to annex Crimea and support Ukraine militia to fight for independence of Ukraine’s major industrial areas. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia but cannot push Russia back as Russia has Chinese support. As a result, Russia not only has maintained its position in Ukraine, but even sent troops to Syria to maintain its influence there against US efforts to bring regime change there.
Russia’s military actions against the West are to some extent similar to what the Soviet Union did before its collapse. The West, especially the US, has been forced to regard Russia as its chief rival though in his recently disclosed national security strategy, US President Trump regards China as its major challenger.
In such case, with Russia diverting the West’s focus, China will be able to continue its peaceful rise without US interference. It may become world number one economically, but shall not contend with the US for world number one as it has too many problems to deal with at home.
Russia has played major role in breaking US encirclement of China.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
New national security strategy places focus on ending China’s trade wars
BY: Adam Kredo
December 15, 2017 1:40 pm
President Donald Trump is placing new focus on targeting China’s exploitation of the international trade system, putting the issue front-and-center in his newly released National Security Strategy, according to new information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and multiple sources briefed on previously unreported details of the administration’s new policy.
As part of Trump’s newly issued strategy to tackle pressing national security priorities, in a document known as the NSS, the White House is planning efforts to combat China’s longstanding practices to exploit the international trade system and harm the U.S. economic stature, according to these sources, who said the plan places renewed focus on the ties between economic security and national security.
The Free Beacon was briefed about this previously unreported portion of the NSS ahead of the formal unveiling of the plan scheduled for Monday.
Trump, a vocal critic of China’s unfair trade policies, is said to have directed senior White House national security officials to target China and other countries who exploit the international trade system, according to White House insiders.
Economic prosperity and national security are inextricably linked in the White House’s view, according to these sources who said previous administrations had failed to adequately highlight this angle in their own National Security Strategy documents.
“For the last several decades, no public policy issue has been of more concern to Donald Trump than unfair trade practices that put both American workers and business owners at a disadvantage,” one source close to the White House and briefed on the NSS told the Free Beacon. “Years before he ran for president he’s been a strong critic of Chinese business practices—but he’s been even more critical of US policymakers who have done little to address this as an issue of America’s economic health.”
“So it’s natural to find that the National Security Strategy stresses this,” the source explained. “Over the last few administrations of both parties, we’ve pretended that our nation’s economic security is a less important thing than say, climate change or in the number of parties running for parliamentary elections in the Middle East. This National Security Strategy is a much-needed corrective, largely because it returns us to common sense and away from ideological abstractions.”
Two specific passages in the focus on efforts by China and other countries to exploit the international trade system and harm U.S. economic interests.
“The United States helped to expand the liberal economic trading system to countries that did not share our values in the hopes that these states would liberalize their economic and political practices, and provide commensurate benefits to the United States,” the new White House NSS language states. “Experience now suggests that these countries distorted and undermined key economic institutions without prompting significant reform of their economies or politics.”
Economic wars are just as dangerous as military ones, according to the Trump administration.
“Today, that economic system is under stress,” the new strategy states. “It continues to serve our interests, but it must be reformed to help workers prosper, protect innovation, and reflect the principles upon which that system was founded. American prosperity is also threatened by an economic competition playing out in a broader strategic context.”
A second source briefed by the White House on the new strategy told the Free Beacon that Trump played a personal role in ensuring that China and other bad trade actors are included in the new national security vision.
“This is Trump’s document through and through, but perhaps nowhere more than the emphasis on restoring economic security,” the source said. “Over and over, the strategy explains the links between economic prosperity and national security, and how predatory economic behavior from rivals like China directly threatens our ability to protect ourselves and our interests.”
Source: Washington Free Beacon “Trump Spearheads New Effort to Combat Chinese Trade Exploitation”
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.
The U.S. must face a shift of its own influence on the Korean Peninsula.
By Christopher Layne • November 30, 2017
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump stopped in Beijing to meet with his “friend,” Chinese President Xi Jinping. At the top of Trump’s agenda was persuading Xi to tighten the economic screws on North Korea, in order to compel Pyongyang to give up all its nuclear weapons. There is nothing inherently wrong with the leaders of great powers developing cordial relations with their counterparts—as long as they bear in mind the dictum of the great 19th-century British statesman Lord Palmerston, who famously said that great powers do not have permanent friends. Instead, they have permanent interests.
Warm personal relationships between leaders may matter at the margins of policy, but national interest always prevails over friendship in determining a state’s foreign policy goals. It’s unclear whether President Trump understands this, or, even more importantly, the reasons why Chinese and U.S. interests clash on some important issues—not least North Korea.
The Xi/Trump meeting did not lead to any breakthroughs on the North Korea issue. For one thing, President Trump is all over the ballpark with respect to North Korea. During his East Asian swing he effectively labeled North Korea a one-country “axis of evil,” warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that the U.S. possesses overwhelming military power and is ready to use it, called for Pyongyang to “come to the negotiating table” to solve the crisis peacefully, and said he wants to be friends with Kim.
President Trump is operating on two mistaken assumptions: that North Korea can be compelled to give up all of its nuclear weapons, and that China holds the key to forcing Pyongyang to do so.
China’s leaders have no interest in doing anything that could cause North Korea’s collapse. If the Pyongyang regime dissolved, the Korean peninsula would be reunified, and U.S. troops would be on China’s doorstep. Beijing will do everything in its power—including defending North Korea from a U.S. attack—to prevent this from happening.
Actually, it is the United States—not China—that holds the key to peacefully resolving the crisis without war. Washington needs to acknowledge that both China and North Korea face their own respective “security dilemmas.” To solve the Korea issue without war, the U.S. would need to assuage Beijing’s and North Korea’s respective fears. This would require a radical change in U.S. policy: removing American forces from the Korean peninsula.
That would dramatically reduce Beijing’s and Pyongyang’s sense of insecurity and dramatically change the dynamics with respect to the crisis. Beijing would be able to apply more pressure on North Korea to reach a diplomatic settlement without fear that doing so would have adverse strategic repercussions. And if it no longer needed to fear the U.S. using military power to bring about regime change, the North Koreans would have incentives—especially if economic sweeteners are thrown in—to reduce, and limit, the size of their nuclear arsenal.
Of course, changes in U.S. military posture might solve one problem while creating another: Japan and South Korea would acquire their own nuclear deterrent capabilities. But this is going to happen sooner or later anyway because Japan and South Korea understand that at the end of the day the United States would not commit suicide by using nuclear weapons to defend its “allies.” That is, the U.S. will not—and should not—risk Los Angeles, Houston, or New York to defend Seoul, Tokyo, and Taipei—or, for that matter, Berlin or Warsaw. The U.S. needs to reexamine its policy of “extended deterrence”—that is extending the American nuclear umbrella to cover its allies in East Asia and Europe.
When Xi and Trump met, there was an 800-pound gorilla in the room: the changing Sino-American balance of power. Over the past eight years, China has become the world’s leading exporter, trading nation, and manufacturing nation. And in 2014, the International Monetary Fund announced that, measured by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), China had leapfrogged the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy.
The U.S. foreign policy establishment downplays the importance of China’s astonishingly rapid economic growth by claiming that “China can’t innovate”—notwithstanding that the compass, printing press, and gunpowder were invented in China. But we don’t need to go back to the ancient Chinese dynasties to see proof of innovation. Over just the past few years, China has taken the lead in quantum communications and green technologies (including electric cars), and built the world’s fastest supercomputer (with chips made in China) and world’s largest radio telescope.
Inside the Beltway, the conventional wisdom is that whatever gains China may be making economically and scientifically, the U.S. lead in military power is unassailable. But some serious American military analysts are rethinking the validity of that assumption. A recent RAND Corporation report (“The U.S.-China Military Scorecard”) talks about the “receding frontier of American military dominance in East Asia.” Other RAND analysts believe that by 2020—regionally, not globally—China will have caught up with the U.S. on most key metrics of military power.
Before our eyes, the tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting. We are in the midst of a truly world historical event: what scholars of great power politics call a power transition. Power transitions occur when the dominant (hegemonic) great power’s primacy is challenged by a rising great power.
The Sino-American relationship today is a textbook example of a power transition, and it bears many similarities to the pre-1914 Anglo-German rivalry that culminated in World War I. Power transitions are the most dangerous moments in great power politics because they invariably lead to war between the incumbent hegemon and the rising challenger.
The geopolitical question of our time is whether the United States will try to maintain an East Asian balance of power that is out of sync with the emerging power realities in the Sino-American relationship.
“May you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse. We are living in just such times. Avoiding a Sino-American clash in coming years will require U.S. policymakers to engage in long-term, sober, and innovative strategic thinking.
Christopher Layne is University Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at Texas A&M University. His essay on the parallels between the pre-1914 Anglo-German power transition and the current Sino–American relationship will be published in January 2018 in the edited volume Will China’s Rise Be Peaceful?
November 14, 2017 / 1:21 PM / Updated 4 hours ago
Steve Holland, John Ruwitch
MANILA/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting were headed back to the United States on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the case.
Staff for Delta Air Lines Inc confirmed that the players had boarded a Delta flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles.
“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump told reporters earlier in Manila. He said the trio, who have been held since last week, could have faced long prison sentences, and described Xi’s response as “terrific.”
“They’re working on it right now,” Trump said.
Trump had raised the issue with Xi during a dinner held during the U.S. leader’s Nov. 8 to 10 state visit to Beijing. Trump was in the Philippines capital for a summit of Asian leaders.
Asked about the trio and Trump’s discussing the issue with Xi, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing he was unable to provide any further information.
The three basketball players from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were detained by police on Nov. 7 in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou over allegations of shoplifting. They were not on the team’s return flight to the United States on Saturday.
A senior White House official said the players had been given relatively light treatment due to Trump’s intervention.
“It’s in large part because the president brought it up,” the official told Reuters.
The UCLA team had been in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, which UCLA won 63-60. The teams had traveled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game’s sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The three students – freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill – were taken in for questioning by police about alleged shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store.
They were released from police custody early on Wednesday and had been confined to a luxury hotel pending legal proceedings.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who had not spoken with the three players, said what had occurred was a “very regrettable situation.” Pac-12 is a college athletic conference in which UCLA participates.
“I‘m just glad it’s resolved and that they’re on the way home safely,” he told Reuters by telephone from an Anti-Defamation League Sports Leadership Council event in San Francisco.
Since the matter didn’t occurred on the court, it was up to UCLA whether the players would be punished, Scott said.
Reporting by Steve Holland in Manila and John Ruwitch in Shanghai, additional reporting by Philip Wen in BEIJING; Writing by James Pomfret and Susan Heavey; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Bernadette Baum
Source: Reuters “UCLA players depart China after Trump asked for Xi’s help”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
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.