Trump’s China policy

The biggest surprise since Donald Trump’s election victory is his decision to pick a fight with China. Not once in his campaign did he mention the word Taiwan. Yet all of a sudden there is now a threat over America’s “One China” policy ….

Without realising it, the US electorate appears to have opened the gates to a new cold war in which America’s hand will be far less strong than it was first time round. One of the reasons the US won the original one was its skill at breaking China away from the Soviet block. Detente between Richard Nixon’s US and Mao Zedong’s China in 1972 cemented the Sino-Soviet split and weakened Moscow’s global appeal. Mr Trump plans to do the reverse.

Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who will play a key role as Mr Trump’s national security adviser, believes China is in league with Isis and other Islamist terrorist groups to defeat the US. It is a breathtaking fiction. Before he joined the Trump campaign, Mr Flynn believed Russia was part of the same anti-US axis. He has since dropped his Russia hawkishness for a Trumpian admiration. ….

Contrary to Mr Flynn’s view, China is a natural ally in America’s struggle against Islamist terrorism. ….

Can we trust Mr Trump’s instincts in a crisis? Will Mr Putin act as a restraint — or even a mediator — between a defensive US and a rising China? We cannot yet know the answer. What we do know is that Mr Trump’s closest adviser is a man who sees China as a mortal foe.

Edward Luce, “Donald Trump’s collision course with China“, Financial Times, 19 December 2016 (metered paywall).

There is much more in the full column.

Another surprise was the announcement by Trump’s transition team that it would appoint, as ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, vocal opponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump ignored this subject during the campaign, except for one moment, in February, when he told a town hall meeting “in Charleston, South Carolina, that he wanted to be a ‘neutral guy’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not pick sides“. Instead, we now see a threat over America’s “two-state” policy for Israel and Palestine.

We wait with bated breath for more hints of what Trump’s foreign policy initiatives might be.

 

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