By Yeganeh Torbati and Michael Martina | BEIJING Sun Mar 19, 2017 | 2:14am EDT
With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.
China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.
Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the island that is bound to anger China.
But meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, those issues were brushed aside by Xi and Tillerson, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.
“You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said.
Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.
“We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.
“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Xi added, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.
China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, Xi said.
Tillerson replied that Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.
Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between Xi and Trump.
“And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future,” Tillerson said.
“We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation.”
Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
Before Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday, Trump said North Korea was “behaving very badly” and accused China of doing little to resolve the crisis over the North’s weapons programs.
Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson issued the Trump administration’s starkest warning yet to North Korea, saying in Seoul that a military response would be “on the table” if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.
Still, China and the United States appeared to have made some progress or put aside differences on difficult issues, at least in advance of a planned summit between Xi and Trump.
Both Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying the United States and China would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take “a different course”.
Underscoring the tensions, North Korea conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was “a new birth” of its rocket industry, Pyongyang’s official media said on Sunday.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.
Washington wants China, the North’s neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programs.
China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.
Chinese official also repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe, and express fears poverty-struck North Korea could collapse if it were cut off completely, pushing destabilizing waves of refugees into northeastern China.
(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Source: Reuters “Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
SCMP says in its report “Politics aside, Trump and Xi could bond as ‘strong men’” today, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday (March 13) the administration was preparing for a meeting between the two leaders but was not ready to announce a date. ‘Planning is ongoing for a visit between President Trump and President Xi at a date to be determined,’ Spicer said.”
SCMP quotes Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying that the two sides had been in close communication over the possibility of a summit and information would be released in a timely manner.
For a summit between two countries, each of the leaders wants to get as much as possible for his own country. That is not an occasion for personal friendship though good personal relations may make it easier for leaders to convincing each other as they are more willing to listen to and think about more carefully each other’s arguments.
However, they certainly will not do anything unfavorable to their national interests.
That is why the fact that both Trump and Xi are strongmen cannot determine the occurrence of the meeting, let alone the results of the meeting.
Putin is much more a strongman than Xi and must be more likely to have a summit with Trump, but there is no prospect of a meeting between them as neither Trump can lift the sanctions for Putin nor Putin can give up Crimea for Trump. Such conflicts cannot be resolved by personal friendship between leaders as they concern their countries’ core interests.
Both Trump and Xi want good relations for their countries’ economy. For Trump, getting China’s concessions on currency and trade is his core interests. Xi can give him as liberalization of Chinese currency and removal government support for enterprises with excessive production capacity are precisely what Xi wants. No matter Trump wants them or not, Xi will do so. US pressure only helps Xi do so.
I have just posted Reuters’ report titled Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws”, in which Reuters says “Lighthizer said Beijing’s industrial policies have supported vast amounts of ‘uneconomic’ production capacity that would not survive without state support. He said this was particularly true in the steel and aluminum sectors, leading to the dumping of products into U.S. markets.”
Xi wants to scrap the excessive capacity but has difficulty to overcome vested interests in those industries. US pressure helps him do so.
As for manipulation of Chinese currency, Xi wants to liberalize yuan but sees great risks in doing so. It is good that Trump wants Xi do so. The risks will be reduced substantially with strong US financial support.
As for much exaggerated conflicts between China and the US concerning Taiwan and the South China Sea. They concern China’s core interests but are Trump’s burdens. The US can get nothing from Taiwan and has no interests in the South China Sea but has to incur lots of costs to defend Taiwan and US allies in the South China Sea.
The US can only make some profit by arms sale to Taiwan, but the weapons are not US best ones. As China are now able to make weapons rival to US best weapons the arms sale may not hurt China’s interests. However, the purchase of expensive weapons will only cause shortage of financial resources for Taiwan to improve its economy. In that respect, the US is helping China.
However, the easy concessions that Trump will get from Xi will be Trump’s breakthrough to help him get concessions from other countries. That is why a summit can be arranged only a couple of months after he came into office.
It gives the impression of Trump’s unpredictability as Trump seemed most hostile to China in his election campaign. It is in fact entirely predictable as one thing is perfectly sure: Trump wants to work for US interests. He was hostile to China as he thought that China hurt US interests. He is happy to know now that China has no intention to hurt US interests but, on the contrary, wants win-win cooperation with the US for the benefits of both countries.
Comment on by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2078888/politics-aside-trump-and-xi-could-bond-strong-men
By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Sat Feb 11, 2017 | 1:34am EST
Combining public bluster with behind-the-scenes diplomacy, China wrested a concession from the United States as the two presidents spoke for the first time this week, but Beijing may not be able to derive much comfort from the win on U.S. policy toward Taiwan.
Several areas of disagreement between the superpowers, including currency, trade, the South China Sea and North Korea, were not mentioned in public statements on Thursday’s telephone conversation between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump. In getting Trump to change course on the “one China” policy, Beijing may have overplayed its hand.
Trump had upset Beijing before he took office by taking a call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, then casting doubt on the “one China” policy, under which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.
Trump changed tack and agreed to honor the “one China” policy during the call, prompting jubilation in China. Beijing had been working on diplomatic ways to engage Trump’s team and largely blaming Taiwan for stirring things up. [nL4N1FV21K]
Laying the foundation for that call had been the low-key engagement of China’s former ambassador to Washington and top diplomat, the urbane and fluent English-speaking Yang Jiechi, with Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“China was pragmatic and patient. It made every effort to smooth out the relationship, and it paid off,” said Jia Qingguo, dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, who has advised the government on foreign policy.
But China also made very clear Taiwan was not up for negotiation, unleashing state media to threaten war and punishment for U.S. firms if that bottom line was breached.
China has long described self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory, as the most sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. relations.
Its military had become alarmed after the Trump-Tsai call and was considering strong measures to prevent the island from moving toward independence, sources with ties to senior military officers told Reuters in December. [nL4N1ES0VR]
A source familiar with China’s thinking on relations with the United States, speaking to Reuters last month, said China had actually not been too bothered with Trump’s Taiwan comments before he took office as he was not president then and was only expressing his personal view.
“If he continues with this once he becomes president then there’s no saying what we’ll do,” the source said.
TSAI’S CHILLED HEART
Despite the U.S. concession, military tensions remain.
On Saturday, the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily placed a picture on its front page of Chinese warships about to embark on a new round of drills in the South China Sea, right next to an upbeat commentary about the Xi-Trump call.
The paper’s WeChat account took a harsher line, saying that with Trump getting back with the program on “one China”, Taiwan had better watch out.
“The heart of that Madame Tsai on the other side of the Taiwan Strait must at this moment be chilled to the core,” it said.
One senior Western diplomat said China had been redoubling its efforts to win over the Vatican, one of a handful of countries to retain official ties with Taiwan.
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Taiwan says it hopes for continued U.S. support, and one ruling Democratic Progressive Party official told Reuters that the “one China” policy had not affected previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, even as U.S. presidents’ commitment to the island have waxed and waned.
Xi has put great personal political capital into seeking a solution over Taiwan, an issue that has festered since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island after losing the civil war to the Communists. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
But in its relations with Washington, the risk for Beijing remains that its diplomatic win over “one China” will be short lived, as Trump will not want to be seen as having caved in.
“What he’s shown the Chinese is he’s willing to touch the ‘third rail’ of U.S.-China relations,” said Dean Cheng, China expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“Beijing can’t predict what he’ll do next – and he’s only been in office three weeks. What is he going to do on trade and other economic issues?”
U.S. officials said the affirmation of the “one China” policy was an effort to get the relationship back on track and moving forward. [nL1N1FV1RU]
But Trump’s change of tack may be seen by Beijing as a climbdown, said Tom Rafferty, the China Regional Manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“Mr Trump is erratic and will not appreciate the suggestion that he has been weak.”
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina, and J.R. Wu in Taipei and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Source: Reuters “China gets an early win off Trump, but many battles remain”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, said he would help increase trade between the two countries, Chinese state media reported, amid concerns over protectionist talk from the new U.S. administration.
Trump has railed against China’s trade practices, blaming them for U.S. job losses, and has threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.
Beijing says it will work with Washington to resolve any trade disputes, but state media has warned of retaliation if Trump takes the first steps toward a trade war.
Branstad, currently the governor of Iowa, said he would help to work out differences and that there was immense potential for more Chinese investment in the United States.
“We want to continue to enhance the relationship and to increase trade between our two countries,” Branstad told China’s official Xinhua news agency in an interview in the United States published late on Thursday.
“I hope … that I can play a constructive role trying to work out many of these differences in a way that makes it a win-win. It is beneficial to both of our countries, and also benefits the rest of the world,” Xinhua cited Branstad as saying.
“I think we have seen just the tip of the iceberg of the potential (Chinese) investments here,” he said.
Trump’s nomination of Branstad, a longtime Republican governor who has developed relationships with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, was well-received, even among some Democrats.
He still faces a confirmation hearing.
Trump has moved to fill his administration with critics of China’s trade policies, including Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary, Robert Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Representative, and Peter Navarro, an economist and China hawk who will serve as a White House adviser.
Free trade advocates worry the Trump trade team will be too quick to use tariffs to keep imports out, raising costs for manufacturers that rely on imported parts – or even sparking retaliatory trade wars.
Xi made a vigorous defense of globalization at the World Economic Forum last month, and presented China’s economy as a “wide open”, despite complaints from the foreign business community that Beijing has not made good on pledges of economic liberalization.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Source: Reuters “Trump pick for China ambassador aims to boost trade ties: Chinese state media”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Doug Bandow January 4, 2017
Perhaps the greatest evidence of the hubris surrounding uber-hawks, both neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, is their willingness—even determination—to make multiple enemies simultaneously around the globe. Hence their constant refrain that the world is dangerous and military spending must go up, ever up.
The United States, apparently alone, since it cannot rely upon allies which are constantly whining for reassurance, must confront China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, the Islamic State, assorted terrorist movements and any anyone else who resists U.S. “leadership.” Neutral observers might find this disparate collection, several of whose members are at odds, somewhat less than a formidable threat compared to the United States, virtually every European nation, the majority of Asian industrial states, the most important and wealthiest powers in the Middle East, and the majority of the rest of the countries that are friendly to the West. Nevertheless, Americans are constantly told that the United States has never been more embattled—not, apparently, during the Civil War, Cold War, World War I, or even World War II.
Yet if the hawkish “perpetual threat” lobby really believes its rhetoric, it has only itself to blame. After all, increasingly treating both China and Russia as adversaries has achieved what was otherwise impossible: pushed the Cold War allies-turned-enemies into friends, and possible allies again.
Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union provided vital assistance to Mao Zedong’s Communist rebels. Without Moscow’s backing, especially turning over weapons and territory to the insurgents after Japan’s August 1945 surrender, Mao might not have had the opportunity to become a nation builder—and one of the greatest mass killers in human history.
Despite some natural tensions between the two states, Mao generally accepted Stalin’s leadership. For instance, with Stalin determined to avoid a military confrontation with America, Mao’s People’s Republic of China intervened in the Korean War to preserve North Korea, which began as a Soviet client state. However, the Soviet leader died in 1953, only four years after the PRC’s creation.
De-Stalinization by Nikita Khrushchev led to ideological disputes over which government offered an uncorrupted vision of Marxist-Leninism. Mao criticized Moscow’s willingness to accept “peaceful coexistence” with the West. The Soviet leadership worried about Mao’s reckless military measures against the remnant Nationalist government in Taiwan. By 1961 the Chinese Communist Party was denouncing Soviet leaders as “revisionist traitors.” The two countries created rival revolutionary and state networks and battled for influence within nominally Communist nations. The USSR backed India against China; the latter criticized Moscow’s willingness to compromise in the Cuban Missile Crisis and join in treaty limits on nuclear weapons.
In 1966 Beijing raised the issue of “unfair” treaties imposed by the czarist Russian Empire. Border conflict broke out three years later. Casualties were modest and fighting ceased later in the year, though a formal border agreement was not reached until 1991.
Chinese-Soviet tension continued around the world, as the two backed rival revolutionary factions in several African conflicts. They disagreed over Vietnam; Beijing supported Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, which was ousted by Hanoi in 1978, and fought a brief war with the latter the following year. The two Communist giants also differed in Afghanistan. Although relations in later years were not nearly as hostile as during the Mao-Khrushchev era, the vision of a unified Communist bloc had been irretrievably destroyed.
The brief Sino-Russian shooting war apparently convinced Mao that he needed to reduce tensions with at least one of the PRC’s potential adversaries, opening the way for the Nixon administration. Rapprochement between the United States and China began with Richard Nixon relaxing trade and travel restrictions on the PRC in 1969. The same year, Beijing and Washington resuscitated the Sino-U.S. ambassadorial Talks. Nixon also used Pakistan as a diplomatic intermediary, which reported Chinese interest in improving bilateral ties.
In 1971 the two countries engaged in so-called “ping-pong diplomacy,” with the visit of an American table tennis team to China, while Nixon eliminated the last travel limits. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger surreptitiously visited Beijing as part of an official trip to Pakistan in July 1971, setting in motion a second visit in October and U.S. support for the PRC’s entry into the United Nations and possession of the Chinese Security Council seat. Richard Nixon’s famed visit to China came in February 1972. He told Mao: “You are one who sees when an opportunity comes, and then knows that you must seize the hour and seize the day.” Actually, both leaders did so.
Although formal diplomatic ties (which required ending official relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan) did not come until 1979, under President Jimmy Carter, the United States and PRC continued to expand contacts and commerce. In no way were the two countries military allies. But Washington effectively neutralized one potential security threat and prevented the recreation of a Sino-Soviet coalition against the United States. Geopolitically, America gained flexibility and leverage in confronting the USSR. Washington could enjoy global preeminence, if not dominance, at lower cost.
Chinese-Russian relations improved as the Cold War ended and ideological conflicts waned. But tensions remain real. Beijing shows as little respect for intellectual property when it comes to Russian weapons as it does for Western consumer goods. The Central Asian republics were part of the Soviet Union, but increasingly are drawn to China economically. Russia’s Far East is virtually unpopulated, giving rise to fears of Chinese territorial absorption.
However, under President Barack Obama, the United States has courted conflict with both powers. To constrain China, the administration staged the “pivot” or “rebalance.” Washington strengthened alliance ties, added troop deployments and increased military maneuvers. The resources involved have been sufficient to irritate but not enough to scare the PRC. Beijing perceives that Washington hopes to contain China, whether or not the former is willing to admit the obvious.
Against Russia, the United States has followed what appears to be an overtly hostile policy: dismissing the former’s Balkan interests, especially breaking apart historic Slavic ally Serbia (which imperial Russia backed in World War I); bringing old Warsaw Pact members and even Soviet republics into NATO, with invitations seeming likely for Georgia and Ukraine (the latter an integral part of both the Russian Empire and Soviet Union); supporting “color” and street revolutions against Russian-friendly governments in Georgia and Ukraine; pushing regime change, including by Islamist insurgents, against Moscow’s Syrian ally; imposing economic sanctions against Russia; and building up U.S. military forces in Europe. Washington might believe all of these policies to be warranted, but no serious Russian patriot could view them as friendly.
The result has been greater cooperation between China and Russia. They are not formal military allies, but have found their dislike and distrust of Washington to be greater than their bilateral disagreements. In the short term, that means cooperating to limit American influence.
Ultimately the objective could become to deter U.S. military action against both nations. Although Washington, with allied support, today should be able to simultaneously defeat the two (short of unconditional surrender), American dominance will fade. Should Russia and China forge closer military bonds, the United States eventually might find itself facing a much less hospitable international environment. That likely would constrain Washington’s responses, and increase the costs and risks if conflict resulted.
America is a great power. But it should not needlessly create enemies and encourage them to ally with each other. If Donald Trump succeeds in improving relations with Russia, he would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States. Richard Nixon’s China policy offers a model for the incoming Trump administration: Make up with at least one of the important powers potentially arrayed against America. The United States should not feel the need to take on the rest of the world.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
Source: Reuters “A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis”
Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
Reuters only says in its report “Seized U.S. drone issue to be resolved smoothly: China paper” that China seized the US drone, US demands its return and Chinese media regard that as an issue easy to resolve.
SCMP, however, quotes in its report “Drone snatch heralds new competition in South China Sea says think tanks, as US demands return of ‘unclassified’ ocean glider” Wu Shicun, president of the Chinese government affiliated National Institute for South China Sea Studies, as saying“China wants to send out a signal that if you spy on us underwater and threaten our national security, we have measures to deal with it… On the South China Sea issue, we took in humiliations with a humble view in past years. I think this era has finished.”
Then what will follow? It seems that there will be confrontation.
It is especially so as SCMP says, “US media quoted Pentagon sources as saying the (US warship) Bowditch was about to recover the glider when a Chinese Dalang III class Chinese warship approached within 500 yards of the Bowditch, launched a small vessel and snatched the drone out of the water.”
Obviously, Chinese warship has tracked the drone for some time but did not seize it until a US warship came to recover it in order to show Chinese navy’s capabilities in tracking and seizing US underwater drones.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ and SCMP’s reports, full text of which can respectively be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-drone-idUSKBN14526J and http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2055434/drone-snatch-heralds-new-era-south-china-sea-say.
SCMP.com – Chen’s escape spawns conspiracy theories
Jerome A. Cohen, a well-known China law expert and fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the various theories that seek to explain the puzzling facts surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s dramatic escape remain speculation that, while entertaining, can undermine Sino-US trust.
How could China’s protean internal security network, which costs the Chinese government more than its defense budget, has allowed this frail blind man to escape from years of illegal captivity in a remote village in Shandong and enter the American embassy in Beijing? And why, less than 48 hours after Chen left safety in the embassy, did Beijing officials open the way for the departure from China that they had just denied him?
Foreigners view Chen’s dramatic escape to the capital with admiration. Thoughtful Chinese, however, are beginning to voice suspicions on the internet and in social media.