The futility of American whining about China

By Lucas Niewenhuis

China is less of a “free rider” today on U.S.-led international systems than ever before, but American “whining” about China has never been greater. And it’s hurting the U.S. strategically.

This is an argument made by veteran American diplomat Evan Feigenbaum in a recent piece on MacroPolo. He explains his view that the current China-bashing mood in Washington is characterized by six blind spots:
•“It’s tough to critique another country’s obvious revisionism when you’re a revisionist yourself.” Not just Trump’s America, but much of Europe has embraced nationalism and shied away from multilateral trade agreements that could effectively push back against China’s power expansion in Asia.
•“China is a revisionist power but not a revolutionary one. This distinction is being blurred but actually matters.” China has disrupted institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, but that is “not even one iota surprising,” while rather than reducing its commitments to traditional international banks, China has actually increased its contributions. In this way, “China’s strategy is actually one of portfolio diversification, not the replacement of institutions and systems.” Read more in Bloomberg: At World Bank, China moves to the grown-up table (paywall).
•“American policy did not ‘mistake’ the implications of China’s rise.” An iconic 2005 speech by a State Department official coined the term “responsible stakeholder,” and urged China to become one. This problem was framed accurately over a decade ago, Feigenbaum writes, and Beijing has increased its contributions to international diplomatic efforts since then. This, along with China increasing its contributions to the IMF and World Bank, have reduced the problem of China “free riding” that Washington in the 2000s saw as so worrisome.
•Although China’s communist ideology is popular to blame for China’s differing international values, the NATO intervention in the Balkans (which bypassed the UN Security Council, where China wielded a veto) after the Cold War in the 1990s is actually where Feigenbaum sees Beijing’s position on territorial sovereignty and several other issues start to dramatically split from the U.S.
•“China has leveraged pan-Asian ideas that others actually invented first. That makes it harder for Washington to push back.” For example, “Before there was an AIIB, there was Japan’s proposal of an Asian Monetary Fund, which helped give rise to today’s Chiang Mai Initiative of bilateral currency swaps among Southeast and Northeast Asian countries.” Read more about how China has begun “loudly speaking the language of international development” in this New York Times op-ed by James Millward (paywall), or learn more about Silk Road history from this Sinica Podcast with him.
•“Whining isn’t competing.” Asia has undergone a gradual process in the past decade of becoming more “Asian,” and less European, Pacific, and sub-regional, and China’s Belt and Road is just part of this process, Feigenbaum writes. Meanwhile, “the US response to this has mostly been to complain about the Belt and Road” and urge countries to not take Chinese loans. But without a proper alternative provided by the U.S. — and “the U.S. is diplomatically challenged and commercially weak in around two-thirds of the Eurasian continental landmass” — this tactic has invited unfavorable comparisons between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. can and must compete better with China in Asia, Feigenbaum writes, by “leveraging its uniquely American strengths — technology, innovation ecosystems, STEM education, connections to the global capital markets, best in class services and other firms, and so on.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Polk writes in Bloomberg (paywall), “China is quietly setting global standards” for “everything from construction to finance to data management,” earning its companies a competitive advantage in third markets across Asia and beyond.

That is, of course, a core area of competition that the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which Trump ripped up on his first day in office — was supposed to help the U.S. compete against China in.

Source: SubChina “The futility of American whining about China”

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


People in Thucydides Trap Upset by Trump, Xi Mutual Currying Favor

Chinese President Xi Jinping was so eager to please US President Donald Trump that he treated Trump with a State Visit +, an honor no foreign leader has ever enjoyed in China.

Trump was certainly pleased and said and wrote something in return.

However, SupChina’s report “An ‘incredible welcome ceremony’ for Trump but few results” today described how many US media are upset by such mutual currying of favor as those media have fallen deep in Thucydides Trap and will not be pleased unless the US has done something to effectively contain China or at lease fight a trade war, if no military war, with China.

The report says that there are few results in Trump’s visit in its title.

In fact, there has been tremendous achievement, first of all and most important of which is the two leaders have got mutual understanding that they want win-win cooperation instead of falling into Thucydides Trap.

China and the US have signed deals worth $250 billion. The report says that there are no details. Certainly, if one has taken part in the discussion of such large deals, they certainly know that it takes time for conclusion of contracts for such deals. However, at least, the signing of the deals showed the intention for win-win cooperation.

In the US, a John Pomfret published an open letter to Xi in Washington Post to worn Xi that there are lots of people deeply in Thucydides Trap who want to fight a trade war with China. Perhaps Trump could not stop them or may even be impeached by them and replaced with someone deeply in Thucydides Trap.

There are also quite a few people deeply in Thucydides Trap in China such as Colonel Liu Mingfu, who advocates China’s military rise to replace the US as world number one in his book “China Dream: The Great Power Thinking and Strategic Positioning of China in the Post-American Era”. The book became a bestseller as soon as it was published. It proved that there were lots of Chinese people who have also fallen deep in Thucydides Trap.

China is lucky to have a leader who has the wisdom to see the disaster that Thucydides Trap may bring to both China and US and who has gained the authority as the core of leadership to silence the opposition from the large number of stupid Chinese who have fallen deep into Thucydides Trap.

China’s Xi is prepared for a trade war so that he has launched China’s Belt and Road initiatives to take great risks in investing in poor countries in order to make them rich to be able to buy Chinese goods so that when China has lost US market, those countries will provide substitute market.

That takes time, but it also takes time for Trump’s enemies to remove him, if possible. China is now fully centralized so that Xi, a leader characterized by quick decision and quick action, is able to make and implement decisions quickly. There is no centralized power in the US. Decisions, if ever be possible, are made very slowly. Perhaps, by the time opposition has grown strong enough to remove Trump, with joint efforts Xi and Trump have to a great extent overcome the trade imbalance between the two countries so that no trade war will be necessary or practical.

In addition, by that time, China and Russia may have succeeded in establishing the Asian Union like the EU to enable all those in the Union to grow rich through win-win cooperation.

The US wants to be world leader. Look at the mirror, do you look like a world leader with declining economy, dilapidated infrastructures, disability to control drugs, crimes and flood of illegal immigrants?

In the past, ASEAN regarded the US as its leader, but now it does not want to take side between the US and China. Is US still its leader?

How many countries obey US leadership now?

China shall be regarded by the US as the country among all countries in the world that respects US world leadership the best. Look, what grand welcome China gave to Trump. That is precisely the honor China has ever given to a world leader.

I would like to ask: Will the Americans deep in the Trap be happy if Xi starts a trade war to drive away McDonald’s hamburgers, Kentucky’s chicken, Pizza Huts’ pizzas, Ford and General Motors’ cars, Iphones, Coca-cola and Pepsi’s soft drinks, etc. that are popular in Chinese market due to China’s open-door policy? American companies produce those goods in China so that they are not regarded as US export to China. If the sales of US goods produced in China are taken into account in the trade balance between the US and China, there is no Chinese trade surplus at all in the trade between China and the US.

Are those goods indispensable in China? Are there no alternative sources for those goods in the world?

Stupid people whether Chinese or American are arrogant. That is why they have fallen into Thucydides Trap.

Comment by China Kai Yee on SubChina’s report, full text of which is reblogged below:

An ‘incredible welcome ceremony’ for Trump but few results

Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Donald Trump enjoyed his treatment in Beijing. He changed the main image on his Twitter account to a photo of himself and Xi Jinping standing together with their wives, and tweeted the following on November 9:

15:08 Beijing time: President Xi, thank you for such an incredible welcome ceremony. It was a truly memorable and impressive display!

21:58 Beijing time: In the coming months and years ahead I look forward to building an even STRONGER relationship between the United States and China.

Both tweets are accompanied by short videos that are similar in style and content to Xinhua News Agency productions.

What was the result of Trump’s two day stay in Beijing? It’s perhaps best told in a series of headlines, abridged for easy reading:

  • Trump praised China and blamed past U.S. administrations for the trade deficit, but while he was having a “beyond terrific” time, human rights lawyers faced harassment and house arrest. —The Guardian
  • The American president placed his bets on flattering Xi Jinping, producing no visible structural changes. Trump said he was looking to President Xi Jinping to “do something” about America’s opioid epidemic, but China’s online opioid bazaar is booming. —The New York Times (paywall)
  • Air Force One took off from Beijing leaving behind nice optics but few gains on trade or North Korea. The $250 billion worth of deals announced by the U.S. administration feature little of substance — many are “memorandums of understanding…with few details, rather than contracts.” Another example of hype is that the Boeing China order hawked by Trump is said to be mostly old news. —Bloomberg
  • Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-US ties, Xi Jinping told Trump. —Reuters
  • Trump and Xi took no questions at an event on Thursday billed as a news briefing, as the American president cooperated with Beijing’s sweeping efforts to control the message of his heavily choreographed visit. —Associated Press
  • Trump has given Xi Jinping a pass on the South China Sea. —Quartz
  • While Trump was in Beijing, the People’s Daily reported that China has plans to test launch a Long March rocket in the South China Sea soon, for commercial purposes.

So the visit went smoothly and media reports talk of a bromance between Xi and Trump. But the bros may not be able to maintain the bonhomie:

  • The Economist says (paywall) that while Xi and Trump look friendly now, anti-U.S. feeling is stirring in China, and that “the anti-American strain now seems to run from the top of the Chinese state (Messrs Xi and Wang [Huning 王沪宁]) to the bottom (Xinhua and internet trolls).”

•In the Washington Post, John Pomfret has published an open letter to Xi Jinping, which warns that “a backlash is brewing against your country in the United States, and it goes well beyond Trump,” and many of Pomfret’s colleagues, “even those from the Democratic Party, are in complete agreement with Trump’s former aide, Stephen K. Bannon, that the United States is in an economic war with China and that Americans have done far too much to facilitate your nation’s rise.”

China Criticizes CIA Director Comments

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at regular press conference

Foreign Ministry denounces Pompeo for calling Beijing a greater long-term threat than Russia

BY: Bill Gertz July 28, 2017 5:00 am

China on Thursday accused CIA Director Mike Pompeo of disparaging China in remarks describing Beijing as the most significant long-term security threat to the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing in response to Pompeo’s interview with the Washington Free Beacon the comments reflected the CIA chief’s Cold War anti-communism.

“If I follow his logic, the conclusion seems to be that the most economically and militarily powerful country will bring the biggest threat to the international community. Is that right?” Kang said when asked about the interview comments.

Kang, following frequent propaganda themes, insisted in a lengthy rejoinder to Pompeo that China will not threaten other states or undermine foreign nations’ interests.

He also repeated frequent assertions that China’s takeover of American high technology companies or cyber attacks aimed at stealing commercial and military secrets pose threats.

The ministry spokesman then warned that China “will not allow other countries to threaten China or undermine China’s interests.”

“So, the key is to look at state-to-state relations from the perspective of building a community of shared future, rather than cling to the mindset of zero-sum game that belongs to the Cold War,” he said.

A CIA spokesman said: “We stand by the comments made by Director Pompeo and [CIA analyst] Mike Collins at the Aspen Security Forum.”

Pompeo said during the interview that China poses a more significant long term security challenge to U.S. interests based on its large economy and growing military power, when compared to Russia and Iran.

“I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America of any of those over the medium and long term,” he said, noting China seeks to counter U.S. military power around the world while stealing American know-how.

“So you see that, whether it’s going on in the South China or East China Sea, or the work they’re doing in other parts of the world,” Pompeo said. “If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff, or make sure they can defeat it. And most often, both.”

Chinese propagandists such as Kang frequently use the term “Cold War mindset” as code for anti-communism. However, during the Cold War, the United States achieved unprecedented close ties to China’s Communist dictatorship as part of a strategic initiative that sought to cultivate Beijing as hedge against the Soviet Union.

U.S.-China relations, however, have not been reset since the tilt toward Beijing, despite continued threatening behavior from Beijing.

China remains a major proliferator of nuclear and conventional arms technology and goods to rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. China also is trying to covertly take over strategic waterways in the South China Sea and East China Sea contrary to international law.

Kang insisted U.S.-China relations over the past 40 years have showed common interests and cooperation.

“China and the U.S. should follow the consensus reached between the two leaders and pursue the sound and steady development of bilateral ties along the right track in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.”

Kang also challenged Pompeo’s claim of sub rosa commercial activities aimed at taking over companies, noting that for nearly four decades “businesses on both sides have been conducting normal commercial activities following the rule of the market.”

“We believe that if it had not been for the interests of the U.S. companies, they would not have bothered to do it,” he said.

On cyber espionage, Kang said China opposes all forms of cyber espionage.

“We would like to work with the international community, including the U.S., to forge a peaceful, secure, open, and cooperative cyber space based on the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust,” he said.

China was blamed by U.S. intelligence officials for what they said was a damaging cyber attack against the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s repository of personal information. Some 22 million records were stolen by Chinese hackers and U.S. intelligence believes the data will be used for new and potentially more damaging human and cyber espionage operations.

Collins, the CIA assistant deputy director and head of the CIA’s East Asian Mission Center, said in a speech in Aspen that Chinese cyber theft is continuing.

“We know the Chinese are very active in targeting our government, U.S. industry, and those of our partners through cyber espionage,” said Collins said. “It’s a very real, big problem, and we need to do more about it.”

The Foreign Ministry comments were followed by a report in the hardline Communist Party newspaper Global Times that quoted Chinese government experts who also criticized Pompeo.

“Such voices have existed for long, and in terms of the overall national strength, China is indeed the only country that could compete with the U.S.,” the newspaper quoted Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, as saying.

“However, China being powerful is one thing, and how China will use that power is another. Different from some Western countries, China is not a country which advocates expansionism,” he said.

Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government-controlled think tank, said the CIA chief’s comments reflected the thinking of the U.S. strategic community in viewing China as the most significant threat.

Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Criticizes CIA Director Comments”

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

How We Chinese Assess US New President Trump

There has been quite a lot of negative assessment of Trump in US media as they did not even want him elected during his election campaign. However, Trump has been elected in spite of their opposition. The lots of negative comments certainly reflect the anger of quite some vested interests hurt and will be hurt by Trump’s populist policies.

However, we Chinese do not want to interfere with US politics but are very much concerned whether Trump’s policies may hurt China’s interests. For us China’s interests are most important in assessing Trump. From that point of view, we see that Trump has withdrawn from TPP that Obama initiated for containing China and Trump has not carried on Obama’s policy in creating trouble for China in the South China Sea.

China has been benefited by Trump’s China policies; therefore, there is no reason whatever for us Chinese to join US media in denouncing Trump.

On the contrary, we shall praise Trump for his efforts to conduct win-win cooperation with China.

Article by Chan Kai Yee.

Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. State of Secretary, Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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.

What Will China and US Get in Trump-Xi Meeting?

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

China gets an early win off Trump, but many battles remain

A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at London's Heathrow Airport, October 19, 2015 and U.S. President Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/File Photos

A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at London’s Heathrow Airport, October 19, 2015 and U.S. President Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/File Photos

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.


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.