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.
SCMP carries Reuters report: U.S., China to counter cybersecurity risks
The United States and China both have advanced cyberwarfare capabilities and must work to avoid miscalculations that could lead to conflict, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday as he hosted the first visit to Washington by a Chinese defence minister in nine years.
According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, this morning blind activist Chen Guangcheng says that China and America have in the main reached agreement to allow him to leave for America and that he will be allowed to meet his friend before departure. He will leave when his health has recovered.
His good friend Jiang Tianyong said that negotiation between China and America had made smooth progress and the direction of further development had been determined. Both sides adopted “positive attitude”. A Central official who visited Chen was quite kind to Chen. When Chen requested for “meeting old friends” before going abroad, the official immediately approved. However, as Chen’s foot was injured last month when he fled house arrest, he would not leave until the injury has been healed. He said what he worried most was the safety of his relatives back home, especially his mother and nephew. Moreover, he was helped by quite a few friends when he fled house arrest. At present he has lost contact with some of them.
His wife Yuan Weijing said that they have not begun application for their travel documents and did not know when they would leave. According to relevant regulations, it takes 15 working days to get a passport or 5 in urgent case.
Previously, State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said that China will provide Chen and his family with travel documents “as soon as possible”. U.S.officials estimate that if things go on smoothly, in the fastest case, Chen may leave within a few days.
The hospital Chen stayed remained guarded by plainclothes police yesterday. They did not allow reporters to enter the hospital, but their number has been reduced. American embassy vehicles entered at about 3:00 pm and stayed for about one hour. Sources say that people from the embassy talked with Chen’s wife. Chen says that embassy people come to visit him everyday but are not allowed into his ward with the only exception on May 4 when they brought a doctor to check Chen’s medical record and laboratory reports.
Shandong Lawyers Association tries to accuse Chen of violation of law.
Chen Guangcheng becomes a lawyer through self-study and has not received professional legal training. Recently Shandong Lawyers Association published a signed “solemn statement” on the Internet, stating that Chen Guangcheng is not a lawyer and that passing for a lawyer in engaging in litigation violates the law and can be reported to relevant government agency.