Japan is America’s closest ally in Asia. Its Prime Minister Abe has made great efforts to help former US President Obama establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to contain China. However, Obama’s successor President Trump, though is trying hard to contain China with trade war now, scrapped TPP as soon as he was inaugurated in spite of Abe’s great efforts in trying to persuade Trump not to do so.
Moreover, Trump has been pressuring Japan to make trade concessions to the US in order to reduce US trade deficit with Japan.
He has thus pushed Japan into China’s arms. According to Reuters’ report “China, Japan to forge closer ties at ‘historic turning point’” on October 25, Abe is now making great efforts to improve relations with China that he previously tried hard to contain and will make efforts to make Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a reality, which China takes the lead to form in order to counter Obama’s TPP.
There were also Reuters’ reports “Pakistan PM Khan, in search of loans, to visit China next week” and “Iran to boost oil supplies to China in October-November: Rosneft CEO” the same day on Pakistan seeking financial aids from China and Chinese purchase of Iran’s oil to help Iran deal with US sanctions.
However, the most disappointing Reuters’ news for the US on that day is “India aim to hold army drills in China by end of year”. Due to the border dispute between China and India, the US has tried hard to have India join its quad of the US, Japan, Australia and India to counter China. However, India refused to join the other three of the quad in their military drill. On the contrary has been planning to conduct military drill jointly with China that the US wants it to contain.
What India, Japan, Iran and Pakistan have been doing proves that the US is risking being entirely isolated in Asia while China is successful in forming a united front in Asia to counter US hegemony.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can repectively be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-india-defence/china-india-aim-to-hold-army-drills-in-china-by-end-of-year-idUSKCN1MZ1BW, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-japan/china-japan-to-forge-closer-ties-at-historic-turning-point-idUSKCN1MZ00O, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-china-rosneft/iran-to-boost-oil-supplies-to-china-in-october-november-rosneft-ceo-idUSKCN1MZ15K and https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-pakistan/pakistan-pm-khan-in-search-of-loans-to-visit-china-next-week-idUSKCN1MZ1HZ.
This is a very interesting era of world trade war. We may suffer the consequence of such a war, which I hope is not serious, but we shall not fail to be entertained by the developments.
There was the possibility of a real war with military forces between China and the US but due to Chinese President’ Xi Jinping’s resolute fast construction of artificial islands, a military war between the US and China has been avoided.
The US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept Hague arbitration award that deprived China of all its historical interests in the South China Sea but failed as China challenged it with war. US military was well aware that with three airstrips on China’s artificial islands supported by Chinese airbases along China’s coast the US has significant geographical disadvantages to fight a war with China in the South China Sea. Other seas along Chinese coast are too shallow for US huge submarines to maneuver. The US has to invest tens of billions dollars to develop B-21 to attack China.
Now, China has deployed its J-20 heavy stealth fighter jets for air supremacy to make it impossible for the US to win a war near China.
However, Thucydides trap still works in spite of that. The US has to defeat China in order to prevent China from surpassing it. Trump is shrewd to resort to less risky trade war to destroy China or at least hinder China’s rise.
However, he does not seem shrewd enough in trying to break the de facto alliance between China and Russia. The alliance makes it impossible for the US to defeat China even if the US has developed B-21 bombers to bomb Beijing. The US simply cannot break the alliance due to Russia’s economic dependence on China.
Anyway, it is really burdensome to deal with the alliance of two strong powers. Trump is wise to strive to improve relations with Russia so as to be able to concentrate US strength in containing China. But he fails to realize the difficulty to overcome American politicians, media and people’s hostility towards Russia so that his efforts have backfired.
China, however, has been benefited by Trump’s efforts to improve US relations with Russia.
Russia is EU’s major challenge. The two sides have been contending to win over Ukraine for a long time due to their core interests there, but the US has no such conflicts of interests with Russia. Therefore there are no significant obstacles to surmount for improvement of US-Russia relations. Americans’ hostility towards Russia is ideological without major conflict of interests.
If US-Russia relations have improved, EU members have to increase their military budgets for their defense against possible Russian aggression. Removing one enemy while reducing the burden to protect his European allies, that is Trump’s wishful thinking.
However, Trump fails to see that in doing so he is pushing EU to China’s side.
In my previous posts I said China-Russia alliance was impossible if Obama did not pushed them together. The two neighbors have a long history of conflicted interests.
Now, China and EU does not have serious conflicts of interests. EU wants China to open its market while China is precisely doing so as its further reform requires that.
EU fears China’s influence in eastern and central Europe, but China can prove to EU that its influence is purely economical. China has do so in Central Asia to convince Russia. It can also prove that to EU in eastern and central Europe.
Reuters’ report today titled “Forcing China on trade with illegal action will not work: EU’s Malmstrom” precisely proves that the Trump-Putin summit and Trump’s threat of trade war with EU are pushing EU to China’s side.
China is now making every effort to set up a united front with EU against the US. Quite a few analysts believe that such a united front is impossible, but Trump is making it possible.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report “Forcing China on trade with illegal action will not work: EU’s Malmstrom” today, full text of which has been reblogged by him in his post today.
Reuters Staff July 10, 2018
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she hoped a summit later this month between the European Union and China would take further steps toward protecting investments and help prevent further global trade conflicts.
“I hope that the upcoming EU-China in China brings more progress such as in investment protection agreements,” Merkel said at an economic event in Berlin attended by China’s Premier Li Keqiang.
“And I also hope that Germany and China can make a contribution toward ensuring that the world does not end up blundering into a spiral of trade conflicts,” she added.
The Sino-European summit is due to take place in Beijing on July 16-17. European officials have said China is putting pressure on the EU to issue a strong joint statement against President Donald Trump’s trade policies at that meeting.
Reporting by Michelle Martin, editing by Thomas Escritt
Source: Reuters “Germany, China should help prevent further trade conflicts: Merkel”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
United front is one of Chinese Communist Party’s three magic weapons in its war of resistance against Japan and civil war against KMT. China’s busy diplomatic activities to form a united front against US protectionism now raises the questions: Is China determined to fight the trade war with the US so that it is forming an international united front against US protectionism?
Reuters says in its report “China fans trade dispute with hefty deposit on U.S. sorghum imports” yesterday that China slaps 178.6 percent deposit on imports of U.S. sorghum in retaliation of US tariff increase on Chinese exports. China justified its move by the finding of its investigation on US dumping of sorghum, but media regards the move as an obvious counter measure against US sharp increase in tariffs on China’s solar panels and washing machines.
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised reform measures that may ease US complaints and thus gave rise to hope that there would not be a trade war between China and the US as Xi is making concessions to satisfy the US. The sorghum move proves that Xi’s policies aim at pleasing EU and Japan for the establishment of an anti-protectionism united front against the US. That perhaps will be China’s way to subdue the enemy with diplomacy.
Reuters says in its report “Exclusive: China seeks trade firewall with U.S. allies in rush of ambassador meetings – sources” on April 17, 2018, “China’s international trade representative held a series of meetings with the ambassadors from major European nations last week to ask them to stand together with Beijing against U.S. protectionism, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.” Xi’s promise at Boao Forum on further opening obviously aimed at winning over EU to join China’s united front against the US.
On the other hand, China’s sudden warming up of its relations with Japan is obviously China’s such diplomacy too. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s sudden visit to Japan and his joint statements with his Japanese counterpart on opposition to protectionism proves that China has won over Japan as Japan is also US President Trump’s target of protectionism. Reuters covers Wang’s visit in its report “Japan and China’s foreign ministers pledge to pursue improved ties” on April 15, 2018 and “Japan, China agree trade war will harm global economy” on April 16, 2018.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports.
Three separate developments, all happening on the heels of a major government restructuring plan, show that the Communist Party of China is getting serious about finding its voice and making it heard.
First, it is literally publishing its voice. The Voice of China, a new merged entity of China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio International (CRI), and China National Radio (CNR), is being created, according to a notice (in Chinese) posted by Xinhua on March 21. The news was first reported by Bloomberg, which noted:
•Its name mirrors the U.S.-funded outlet Voice of America, which was “started up during World War II to advance American interests.”
•With probably at least 14,000 employees — 10,000 from CCTV, 2,100 from CNR, and 2,000 from CRI, according to official accounts — Voice of China will be “one of the world’s largest propaganda machines.”
•The list of official duties of the outlet, according to the notice in Chinese, starts with to “promote the Party’s theories, line, principles, and policies” and ends with to “strengthen international communication and tell good China stories.”
Second, media change is also happening on the domestic front:
•China’s publicity department has swallowed the country’s top media regulator. Pang-Chieh Ho reports for SupChina that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) is being folded directly into the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China.
•This reorganization “follows recent moves by the administration to support ‘main melody films,’ movies that espouse state-approved messages, and utilize their soft power to ‘guide and educate the public,’” Ho notes.
And third, the shadowy United Front Work Department — a covert department responsible for increasing the Party’s influence around the world — is gaining more power and responsibilities, according to another notice (in Chinese) on Xinhua.
•The United Front works to co-opt groups ranging from regular non-Party members and the middle class in China to minority groups, including Tibetans and Uyghurs, as well as people in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
•The department will now “oversee the country’s ethnic and religious issues as well as overseas Chinese affairs,” the South China Morning Post explains.
•“The party used to lead the United Front behind a veil…Under the new structure, it will no longer hide behind various government agencies,” a government source told SCMP.
China’s “favorable” rating remains low in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Germany, according to a Pew study in 2017, though a Gallup survey released earlier this month showed that in the U.S., “China’s favorability has increased markedly over the past two years, with a majority (53%) now having a favorable view of China for the first time since early 1989.”
But a higher favorability rating is no guarantee of softer treatment. For example, Foreign Policy reports (paywall) that the U.S. Congress has introduced two bills recently, one targeting foreign propaganda — it would require outlets like the Voice of China to “file semiannual disclosures to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and to include conspicuous announcements informing American consumers of the foreign government funding the content” — and another targeting Confucius Institutes.
Source: SubChina “China gears up to better project its image abroad — and control its message at home”
Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.