UCLA players depart China after Trump asked for Xi’s help

November 14, 2017 / 1:21 PM / Updated 4 hours ago

Steve Holland, John Ruwitch

MANILA/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting were headed back to the United States on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the case.

Staff for Delta Air Lines Inc confirmed that the players had boarded a Delta flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump told reporters earlier in Manila. He said the trio, who have been held since last week, could have faced long prison sentences, and described Xi’s response as “terrific.”

“They’re working on it right now,” Trump said.

Trump had raised the issue with Xi during a dinner held during the U.S. leader’s Nov. 8 to 10 state visit to Beijing. Trump was in the Philippines capital for a summit of Asian leaders.

Asked about the trio and Trump’s discussing the issue with Xi, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing he was unable to provide any further information.

The three basketball players from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were detained by police on Nov. 7 in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou over allegations of shoplifting. They were not on the team’s return flight to the United States on Saturday.

A senior White House official said the players had been given relatively light treatment due to Trump’s intervention.

“It’s in large part because the president brought it up,” the official told Reuters.

The UCLA team had been in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, which UCLA won 63-60. The teams had traveled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game’s sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The three students – freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill – were taken in for questioning by police about alleged shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store.

They were released from police custody early on Wednesday and had been confined to a luxury hotel pending legal proceedings.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who had not spoken with the three players, said what had occurred was a “very regrettable situation.” Pac-12 is a college athletic conference in which UCLA participates.

“I‘m just glad it’s resolved and that they’re on the way home safely,” he told Reuters by telephone from an Anti-Defamation League Sports Leadership Council event in San Francisco.

Since the matter didn’t occurred on the court, it was up to UCLA whether the players would be punished, Scott said.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Manila and John Ruwitch in Shanghai, additional reporting by Philip Wen in BEIJING; Writing by James Pomfret and Susan Heavey; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Bernadette Baum

Source: Reuters “UCLA players depart China after Trump asked for Xi’s help”

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


South Korea Swings Closer To Beijing


Since an unexpected détente between Beijing and Seoul at the end of October, South Korea has continued to seek closer relations with China. Here’s the latest:

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in has agreed to visit Beijing in December, Bloomberg reports, noting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to also meet with President Xi Jinping was left unanswered. Moon and Xi met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam.
  • The “two countries will strengthen strategic talks on all levels” and “quickly normalize bilateral exchanges in all sectors,” according to a South Korean presidential spokesman, per Reuters.
  • Moon and Xi also “agreed on the need to manage the security situation on the Korean peninsula in a stable way” after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un “exchanged war-like threats and insults,” raising tensions last month, Reuters reports.
  • The South Korean military may also be pivoting toward Beijing, the Nikkei Asian Review finds (paywall), as it “rejected a U.S. proposal to conduct a trilateral military exercise that would have included participation from Japan…possibly out of concern for relations with China.”
  • Moon hopes that the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea can be the “peace olympics,” Nikkei further notes (paywall), and has invited Xi to attend. He “aims to have Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the opening ceremony of the Games — now less than 100 days away — and use this as leverage to persuade North Korea to participate.”
  • A Chinese marketing campaign featuring a South Korean actress further indicates the warming of relations, Reuters reports.

Source: SubChina “South Korea Swings Closer To Beijing”

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.

Trade or Military War, China Will Be the Winner, US, Loser

There have been two occasions that China preferred war with the US, but the US would not fight.

When tension aggravated as Japan warned it would send its navy to drive away Chinese fishing fleet, coast guard ships and navy from the disputed waters, China preferred war.

It showcased its second-strike strategic nuclear submarines three days in a row on CCTV primetime news. The rare unprecedented display aimed at giving the US the message that China had enough second-strike capabilities so that when China had sunk a US aircraft carrier the US would not retaliate with nuclear weapons.

The US told Japan not to use its navy and US Vice President Joe Biden succeeded in persuading China not to fight the first shot. In addition, the US made clear publicly that it would not fight for a few rocks (referring to the disputed Diaoyu islands (known as Senkaku in Japan)) so that tension was eased.

At that time the US had no chance to win in East Asia as its aircraft carriers could not go near China for fear of being sunk by China’s hundreds of DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles and all its bases in East Asia were within the range of China’s intermediate ballistic missiles.

The US was wise not to fight though according to world history of Thucydides Trap, the best way for an established dominant power to put an end of the rivalry of a rising power is war. However, no one wants to fight a war with no hope to win.

Again when the US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the Hague arbitration award that deprives China of all its rights and interests in the South China Sea, China responded with large-scale military drills and combat patrol of the disputed waters with its bombers and fighter jets to give the US the signal that China will fight, but how can less than 200 warplanes from two carriers defeat the 600 warplanes China can deploy on the three air bases on its artificial islands? The US again had no chance to win though it had the chance of a war to remove a rival if possible.

US military was strong enough. The problem was that China had the geographic advantages especially with its seven artificial islands.

China’s quick decisions and quick actions in building the islands showed that it was well prepared to prevent US military attack.

The US is even more hopeless in a trade war. China mainly exports low-tech labor-intensive products to the US. With its Belt and Road initiative, it will build infrastructures in countries with lots of cheap labor and move its low-tech labor-intensive industries there when there are the necessary infrastructures; therefore, it utterly will not lose US market in a trade war with the US as it can make and export the products in those countries. The US, however, mainly exports high-tech and agricultural products to China. It cannot move the production elsewhere. Even if it can, it will have lost job opportunities for its people. Moreover, China is a market with great growth potential. Demand for high-end goods will grow drastically when Chinese people grow rich. Will the US be willing to lose its market share in China to Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc. that are compete fiercely with the US in Chinese market?

Moreover, with the trade war, China can drive US fast food, soft drinks, cars, airliners away from the Chinese market to recover large sections of domestic market monopolized by US products.

China can but the US cannot afford a trade war between them!

Why then Chinese President Xi Jinping refrains from fighting a trade war with the US? Xi pursues his ambitious goals of modernization for China’s prosperity and Chinese people’s happiness. Obviously he does not want a trade war that will hinder the realization of his goals. He has no goal to replace the US as world leader. He is wise to know that when China has grown strong enough and remain wise enough, others will regard it as world leader. There is absolutely no need to fight or grab for world leadership. In fact it is utterly impossible to obtain world leadership by fighting or grabbing. What the US fights and grabs for is world hegemony which China does not want.

The reality now is China is concentrating all its resources to achieve its grand modernization goal while the US is wasting its resources to maintain its nominal world leadership but actual world hegemony. Obviously, the future belongs to China instead of the US.

From this perspective we see what SCMP says in its report “The Beijing show over, Trump and Xi push their own world trade orders at Apec” yesterday is but rubbish.

China advocates globalization at Apec as it facilitates realization of Xi’s ambitious goals. Trump upholds isolation that he calls “America first” for America’s interest. It has nothing to do with China wants regional leadership of globalization. Each country promotes what is good for its own interests. That is the reality.

The Xi-Trump détente provides Xi with world environment for achieving his goals. It will also help Trump put US economy back to the course of satisfactory growth. However, there are too many people in Thucydides Trap in the US who want to divert resources to maintain US military superiority that the US is simply unable to maintain or to fight a losing trade war with China. The mess in US politics will cause it to lose world leadership/hegemony. China has nothing to do with that.

As for the term Indo-Pacific mentioned first by Tillerson and now by Trump. It certainly will please the Americans deeply in Thucydides Trap and reduce their opposition to Trump, but it is in fact a military initiative with nothing to harm China economically. In fact all the four, US, India, Japan and Australia have lots of economic interests in their relations with China.

China wants to use the term Asia-Pacific instead of Indo-Pacific as it wants to establish an Asian Union through its Belt and Road initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

India was close to Russia for a long time. That was why Russia was willing to rent it Russia’s most advanced nuclear submarine. Now India has switched to the US due to US Indo-Pacific initiative and even allowed Americans to visit the Russian nuclear submarine. Russia is very much upset by that. What US Indo-Pacific initiative has obtained are even closer Russia-China relations to facilitate the establishment of Asian Union.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2119390/beijing-show-over-trump-and-xi-push-their-own-world.

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.”

US President Trump Tweets His Satisfaction in Beijing

SCMP gives full text of Trump’s first tweet from Beijing on his first day in Beijing in its report “Donald Trump tweets from Beijing about his ‘unforgettable afternoon’ with Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan” today as follows:

“On behalf of @FLOTUS Melania and I, THANK YOU for an unforgettable afternoon and evening at the Forbidden City in Beijing, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan. We are looking forward to rejoining you tomorrow morning!”

I have already reblogged SupChina’s report on Trump’s first day of State Visit + to China. Footages of the visit can be found in YouTube

Obviously, Chinese President Xi Jinping has shown his earnest desire for friendship with the US and got enthusiastic response from US President Donald Trump so that there shall be bright future for US-China ties. However, there are lots of influential Americans falling deep in Thucydides Trap. They are certainly unhappy with Trump and will try their best to change or even remove Trump. We have to wait and see what they can do. Anyway, with his wisdom, Xi will be able to maintain peace even if they have removed Trump.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2119016/trump-tweets-beijing-about-his-unforgettable-afternoon-xi-jinping

Xi Jinping personality cult watch

By Jeremy Goldkorn

A heightened propaganda focus on the personality and life story of Xi Jinping began almost as soon as he took over leadership of the Communist Party in 2012. While it is a long way from the near deification of Mao Zedong while he was alive, some observers have criticized the constant focus in the Chinese media on Xi as a personality cult.
• A director of the Central Party School’s academic department “said the ‘respect and love’ ordinary Chinese felt for Xi was ‘natural’ and ‘heartfelt’ and bore no similarities to a cult of personality,” according to Reuters.
•“A dozen high-ranking provincial officials have been chauffeured to a rural county in northern China to draw inspiration from a tree planted by President Xi Jinping eight years ago,” reports the South China Morning Post.
• Six newspaper front pages show the rise of Xi Jinping in the Washington Post.
• Chinese authorities marked Journalists’ Day on November 8 “by reminding its 228,000 reporters of their duties as propaganda workers and to promote the country’s achievements in its ‘new era,’ a centerpiece of President Xi Jinping’s national ideology,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Source: SupChina “Xi Jinping personality cult watch”

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

Donald Trump goes to China

Trump visits China’s Forbidden City. SupChina photo

By Jeremy Goldkorn

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania spent many hours in Beijing’s Forbidden City on November 8, hosted in grand style by Xi Jinping 习近平 and his wife, Peng Liyuan 彭丽媛.
• The visit included a tea-drinking session, Peking opera performances, and Trump trying to pick up a solid gold antique urn. CCTV has a video.
• Trump’s granddaughter Arabella sang and recited poetry in Mandarin during the tea session.
• The two presidents and their wives dined inside the Forbidden City. CNN says this was the first time a foreign leader has been hosted for dinner at the Forbidden City since 1949.

Coverage worth noting:

There are hundreds of hot takes and commentaries on the visit. Here a few recommendations:
• Veteran journalist and China-watcher Orville Schell is accompanying the Trump team on its tour of Asia, and is writing a diary on ChinaFile. Yesterday’s installment covered the second day of the trip, in South Korea. Schell notes that “President Trump has stuck to the script handed him, done a reasonably good job, and seems to be coming away for our flight to Beijing tomorrow with a deeper conviction than ever of the importance of Japan and Korea to the U.S.’s Asian alliance against not only North Korea, but, in a far less explicit way, China.”
•The New York Times says (paywall) that American business executives are frustrated and expect few outcomes from the visit, which is focused on individual deals rather than long-term trade agreements.
•The Times also has a video (paywall) showing the contrast between Trump’s China-bashing rhetoric and his recent effusive praise of Xi Jinping.
•An announcement from JD.com timed for the Trump visit says the company — China’s second-largest ecommerce player — intends to buy $2 billion worth of American goods, according to Bloomberg.
• Bloomberg also reports that the “White House expects to announce upwards of $250 billion in business deals in China this week,” but that “many of the deals are expected be in the form of nonbinding memorandums of understanding, not contracts.”
• CNBC has the full list of the 29 business executives joining Trump in Beijing.

Source: SupChina “Donald Trump goes to China”

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