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Friday, July 7, 2017

Now They're Rooting For China?

In The Hill, there is a report that President Trump's actions and tweets leading up to the G-20 meeting have kept the Chinese "off balance".  The reporters announce that the Chinese leader and his people do not know what to expect from President Trump and that this is a bad thing.  It's an amazing lack of understanding by these reporters.  Keeping the Chinese guessing is a good thing, a very, very good thing.  The USA wants China's help in reining in the North Koreans.  So far, president Xi of China has talked a good game but done very little.  China could have cut off aid to the NKs or at least threatened to do so.  That act might have gotten Kim Jung Un, the NK leader, to back down.  China did cut off coal imports from North Korea, but the extent of the cut off and the rationale are murky.  The Chinese need to do more.

So how does President Trump get the Chinese to act?  Being unpredictable is a good way to go.  The USA is sending destroyers through the South China Sea where Beijing is trying to claim sovereignty.  We have planes flying overhead there as well.  We are sending massive forces to patrol the waters off the Korean peninsula.  The President tweets first that China has failed but tried to help.  Then he says a few days later that trade between China and the NK's grew 40% in the first quarter (hardly China trying to help).  Trump sells weapons to Taiwan.  The Chinese are wondering what will he do next.  Could Trump put back American nukes into South Korea?  Could the USA now support Japan's getting nukes?  Could the President launch a military strike on the NKs.  Each of these are progressively worse outcomes in Chinese eyes.  Avoiding these outcomes is the only reason that the Chinese might actually take action against the NKs.  If Trump were predictable, the Chinese would have little need to take action.

Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon made major breakthroughs in relations with both China and the Soviet Union.  One reason was that America's sworn enemies were afraid what Nixon might do next.  His conduct was surprising and it left the Communist giants uncertain what was coming next.  They decided that making deals with Nixon was better than waiting to see what he did next on his own.  It was a brilliant strategy then.  It's still a good one now.

Someone really needs to explain this to the reporters at The Hill.

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