Beijing would be wise to start adjusting, peacefully, to the new normal in US-China relations under the Trump administration, particularly with the additions of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.
When President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the foreign-policy establishment was aghast at this breach of accepted diplomatic “protocol” – a soon-to-be American president actually having a direct conversation with “the other,” the entity whose name should not be uttered except with a comma after it, followed by the word “China.”
When Trump heard the outcry from the community of expert China hands, he did what he often does in the face of tut-tutting condescension; he doubled down by questioning the continued viability of America’s “one China policy.” This threw the China mavens into a real frenzy, as they accused him of upsetting the four-decades-old applecart of US-China relations.
The criticisms came from opposing ends of the China-Taiwan policy spectrum. Those with heightened sensitivities toward the feelings of the Chinese Communist leadership feared the dismantling of the fundamental underpinning of Richard Nixon’s opening to China – that America understood and “acknowledged” Beijing’s position that Taiwan is an inseparable part of “one China” and would not stand in the way of its incorporation into the People’s Republic as long as it were accomplished peacefully.
Was Trump now challenging what has been called the “original sin” of contemporary US China policy, throwing 40 years of “constructive engagement” into disarray and even threatening Sino-American conflict?
The angst from many in Taiwan and their American supporters was the mirror image of the empathy-toward-China contingent. They feared Trump might scrap the arrangement that had helped enable Taiwan’s democratic development and its de facto independence. After all, he seemed to suggest that America’s position on Taiwan’s fate was somehow linked to China’s performance on trade. The immediate specter was that Trump saw Taiwan as a “bargaining chip” to obtain Chinese concessions on trade or its cooperation on North Korea.
The concern of the Taiwanese and their American supporters always seemed misplaced, with the bargaining chip dynamic actually working in Taiwan’s favor, not against it. That is, to the extent China did not fully cooperate on trade or North Korea, the president would continue removing the self-imposed constraints on US policy toward Taiwan, with the Tsai call only the first shibboleth to be demolished.
Regardless of Beijing’s cooperation, Taiwan’s fate under the Trump administration was on a better course than it had been under all previous administrations. Only the pace of favorable change, not its direction, would be affected by Beijing’s behavior.
China decided not to reciprocate what was publicly portrayed as a Trump climb-down from his defiant posture on Taiwan and one China. Instead, it continued its duplicitous behavior on both trade and North Korea, undermining US national interests
In any event, as occurred when president George W Bush said the US would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan, establishment figures in the government and in the academic and think-tank community went into policy overdrive to walk back the Trump comments. Reportedly, he would not speak with Taiwan’s president again without informing Beijing first, and he would abide by America’s one-China policy after all.
But China decided not to reciprocate what was publicly portrayed as a Trump climb-down from his defiant posture on Taiwan and one China. Instead, it continued its duplicitous behavior on both trade and North Korea, undermining US national interests.
Trump responded as he said he would. First, he imposed significant tariffs on Chinese important in the face of desperate cries from the international business and diplomatic communities and wild plunges in the stock market. Then, he signed the Taiwan Travel Act, the congressional call for high-level visits between Taipei and Washington, rather than vetoing it or simply letting it become law without his explicit endorsement.
All this occurred before the president announced the appointments of Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser in place of H R McMaster. Whether the two new members of the Trump team informally counseled his latest strong actions on trade and Taiwan is not known at this point, but the president’s moves are certainly consistent with their own stated no-nonsense positions on China-North Korea and China-Taiwan.
Both have openly advocated regime change as the only feasible way to eliminate Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat and its criminal treatment of the North Korean people. And both, particularly Bolton, are long-standing supporters of Taiwan’s democratic security.
The US president and his new national-security and foreign-policy team seem poised to get America’s China/North Korea/Taiwan policies on a more realistic track, consistent with US interests and values, than they have been in decades.
Fishing in troubled waters often leads to a boat capsizing. Calm and steady does it, for both sides. Those whose experience is of a past, weaker, less well-organized China, and an all-powerful US, may have to take a hard look at their "containment" instincts. But China does indeed have to trim its sails to let the Boltonstorm pass.
So let me get the straight…US plays a double game of recognizing "one China policy" but in actuality decides it can deem whatever one China policy means for itself regardless if it violates the soverign rights of one of UN security council member…and expect China to give concessions when it crosses the line even FURTHER then walks back? Sounds like a mafia blackmail? And we have this spinner here trying to spin as if China is the one in the wrong here by not giving concessions…LMAO And don’t give me the drivel about democracy in Taiwan. US has bended like a reed in the wind more than enough times on issue of democracy and human rights when it suits US interests that all this talk abut democracy in taiwan is just a fig leaf to give fake legitimacy to playing taiwan as a geoplitical piece to check China. Not to mention China’s issue with Taiwan is NOT about democracy, but Sovereignty.
Also, please clarify what "duplicitous behavior" on NK did China do. As far as common sense concerned it was US’s own behavior: label NK "axis of evil", did not reallly put effort into realizing the previous agreements with NK, and then worst of all demonstrate it cannot be trusted at all by all the dumb regime change wars that created a belt of instablity from Middle East all the way to North Africa. Make no mistake, the ultimate deciding factor that NK went nuclear is not because of China or even SK (what was NK gonna do, nuke south then take over a radioactive waste land? not to mention SK have the ultmate option to go nuclear too) but its becuase of US. The situation is US is responsible for creating the problem that affected everyone and any help China offers should be appreciated as HELP. Yet this spinner act as if China was obligated to help clean up US’s poop as if China’s the one created the problem. Talk about a delusional propagandist with screws loose in his heads.
Oh and all things considered I think its actually US that has more to worry about the likes of Pompeo and Bolton than China regardless of how they wants to play the Taiwan card against China..so keep your advise to yourself….LOL
Historically US military barks very loud. But ends in a winper. No US President wants to go to War with China. They know that once the war starts, it will never end. China was weak then. Now you can do your own calculation.
Oh please. The likes of Boltwimps scares no one and will do more damage to US than China if allowed free reign. If US does not have the good sense to keep the likes of boltwimps in check herself then she deservedly will get washed aside by history, with or without China.
Did this expert serve on the desk or under the desk? Expecting China to heed his biased view of China and Taiwan and give credence to those two "court jesters" Pompeo and Bolton is highly laughable. It never ceases to amaze me what that the US has such people pontificating on something that ain’t going to happen. Recalibration is what the "clowns" in Washington are hoping for but I am pleased to observe they are trying to "push human excrement" up-hill and its a mess.
Qian Deng could not agree more with you.
So, what adjustments do you think China should make in dealing with the US?
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