Donald Trump seems to have a habit of starting negotiations with extreme positions – building a wall with Mexico, threatening car manufacturers with a 35% tax, etc. – and now he’s doing the same thing with China.
Trump was not kind to the communist nation during his campaign, proposing a 45% tariff as punishment for currency manipulation and insulting the “one-China” policy by threatening to recognize the self-governing island of Taiwan.
Incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had adopted a similar stance towards China, and the Asian nation’s response to his latest insult seems to have the liberal media convinced we’re headed to war.
Tillerson has proposed blocking China from the artificial islands (military facilities) it has been constructing in the South China Sea – a contested area claimed by Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and others.
If the US acts on this threat, “it would set a course for devastating confrontation between China and the US,” replied the state-owned China Daily.
The Obama Administration has already condemned China’s actions in the strategically valuable South China Sea, considering its behavior a threat to freedom of navigation and flight through the region.
Tillerson compared China’s actions in the South China Sea to Putin’s invasion of Crimea and stated that the territory is “not rightfully China’s.”
“Unless Washington plans to wage a large scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish,” warned the Global Times. Tillerson had better “bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories,” continued the nationalistic newspaper.
There’s still the issue of Taiwan.
According to the “one-China” policy, Taiwan is no more than a rebellious province that needs to be reunified with the mainland. Washington has officially agreed with this stance since 1979.
“The one-China principle is the political foundation of Sino-US relations and it is non-negotiable. We urge the relevant side in the US to recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and abide by the pledges by successive US administrations from both parties,” said China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
But Trump has threatened to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip, and his unorthodox phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December has China rattled.
The “government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China,” reiterated Kang. “That is the fact acknowledged by the international community and no one can change.”
The fact remains that China needs us more than we need them, and Trump and Tillerson’s fighting words are more bark than bite. China seems to realize this strategy, and it is unlikely that conflict will result.
“It remains to be seen to what extent his [Tillerson’s] views against China will translate into US foreign policies,” reported the China Daily.