What Would US-China Relationship Looks Like in 2017?
Take a Look at the Recent Move by President-Elect Trump
The international community is wary of U.S. President-elect Trump because it is impossible to predict his actions.
Mr. Trump is taking a tough stance especially on China and tries to carry out a zero-based review on American foreign policy toward China, so the whole world is carefully watching his every move.
Let us examine his words and actions to predict the future U.S.-China relationship.
(1) A Telephone Talk With the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen
On December 12th, 2016, Mr. Trump had a phone conversation with President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen. President Tsai congratulated Mr. Trump on his victory in the presidential election. They confirmed that there were close economic, political and security ties between the United States and Taiwan, according to sources.
The phone conversation between Trump and Tsai is seen as quite unusual, because it was the first contact with a Taiwanese leader by a US President-elect or President since 1979 when Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan and normalized relations with China.
Furthermore, Trump called Tsai “the President of Taiwan”. From the standpoint of China, Xi Jinping is the only person who can be called President. Trump’s having had a phone talk with Tsai Ing-wen based on the recognition that she was the President of Taiwan was a big “Trump shock” to China.
Of course, China lodged a protest after the call, and the White House officials also insisted that Washington’s stance on the China-Taiwan relationship remains. unchanged.
However, Mr. Trump would not give an inch. Instead of correcting his remarks, he said he saw no problem with the phone conversation with Tsai, saying, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment, but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
What is more, in an interview with Fox News on December 11th, Trump made a remark about the “one-China” policy, a principle that insists Taiwan is part of “one-China”. He said as follows:
“I fully understand the ‘one-China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one-China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
“Whether the U.S. will continue to stick to the “one-China” policy depends on how China deals with the United States in issues such as trade policies and the South China Sea disputes.”
Trump indicated the possibility of reviewing the “one-China policy” that had been the foundation of the U.S.-China relationship over the last 37years.
China reacted to this swiftly, warning the in-coming Trump administration. The Chinese navy spokesperson announced that the a fleet of warships led by China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, headed towards the Western Pacific to carry out drills in the East China Sea. It is the first time that a Chinese aircraft carrier made its way across the First Island Chain, the defense line that extends from Okinawa, Taiwan, to the Philippines, into the Pacific Ocean.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province and tries to isolate Taiwan from the international community. China considers Taiwan as one of the country’s core interests, and Xi Jinping seems to think that the annexation of Taiwan will be the biggest achievement of his administration. A series of Trump’s recent actions, however, enhances Taiwan’s international status.
It is inevitable that China will react more sharply to the U.S, which could lead to the souring of U.S-China relations and more frictions in various fields in 2017.
(2) Trump Behaves in a Friendly Manner Toward Russia
Russia has always been the imagined enemy of the U.S. even since the Cold War ended. However, President-elect Trump has been showing a friendly attitude to Russian President, Vladimir Putin, which is also seen as unusual.
Trump released a Christmas letter that he received from President Putin.
The letter said, “…the relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security of the modern world.”
Putin also said, “I hope that after you assume the position of President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner – to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level.”
Trump issued a statement, saying that Putin’s thoughts are “so correct,” and that he hopes both sides are able to live up to those thoughts and expressing his willingness to work for improving U.S.-Russia ties, according to NHK news on December 24th.
Trump’s desire to promote friendly ties with Russia is also reflected in his staff choices. He announced that he named pro-Russian Rex Tillerson, the chairman and CEO of a major international oil company, Exxon Mobil as his Secretary of State.
Russia, that faced economic sanction from the EU and the U.S., had no choice but to deepen ties with China. But that would not be necessary if Russia could improve relations with the U.S. On the contrary, the China-Russia relationship is expected to be ever more difficult.
The true meaning of the “Trump Revolution”
In his recent book, “The Determination to Realize Prosperity,” Master Ryuho Okawa, Founder and CEO of Happy Science, refers to a series of Trump’s words and actions. He says:
“Mr. Trump called Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and is trying to approach Russian President Putin in a friendly manner. What does he have in his mind? It is to stop Chinese hegemony? This is the true meaning of ‘Trump Revolution’. We must not overlook his true intention.”
Now the imagined enemy of the U.S. is not Russia, but China. Trump has chosen hard-line conservatives as members of his forthcoming cabinet to deal with terrorism and China. He is steadily making preparations to make America strong, which is a drastic policy changes from the Obama administration.
It is necessary for Japan to support America, its ally, and shares the universal values such as freedom and democracy and to stop China’s hegemonic actions.
(3) Trump Criticizes China for its Economic and Military Policies
On December 4th, Trump posted several tweets criticizing China for its economic policy and self-serving behavior in the South China Sea on twitter.
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”
Trump has criticized China by name during and since the presidential campaign that it is stealing American jobs and affecting the economy, and has pledged to impose a 45% tariff on imports from China as a countermeasure to China’s devaluation of the Yuan, He also vowed to declare China to be a currency manipulator.
(4)Trump Criticizes China for Stealing the U.S. Navy Underwater Drone
The Chinese Navy seized the U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle in the South China Sea on December 15th. It is widely viewed that China’s seizure of a drone was a warning to the in-coming Trump administration that sharply criticizes China’s military policies.
In response to China’s unlawful action, Trump tweeted,”China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”
The Chinese government returned the drone to the U.S. five days after the incident occurred. However, the friction between the U.S. and China still exists due to China’s increasing militarization in the South China Sea, so it is highly likely that tensions between the two countries will grow in the future. It can be predicted from a series of Trump’s words and actions that it will become more difficult for China to disregard the international order and behave self-righteously after 2017.
(5) Trump’s Selection of the China Hardliner, Peter Navarro, as a Head of a New National Trade Council
The appointment of cabinet members of the Trump administration reflects Trump’s
intention to take a tough stance on China.
On December 21st, Mr. Trump newly created the National Trade Council inside the White House and named Peter Navarro, an economist and professor at the University of California, to lead the council. In establishing the new council, Trump said; “For the first time, there will be a council within the White House that puts American manufacturing and American workers first, and that thinks strategically about the health of America’s defense industrial base and the role of trade and manufacturing in national security.” This is the very organization that will implement his “America First” policy.
Mr. Navarro has published a great number of books about China and is known as a fierce critique of China. In “Death by China” that was published in 2011, he argues that China’s cyber attacks and currency manipulation have dealt a serious blow to the U.S. national security and economy. Trump agrees with him on this point.
In his book, “Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World?,” Mr. Navarro also refers to China’s rapid military rise. He says;
- China is on its way to securing de facto control of the sea inside the First Island Chain encompassing the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands.
- Historically, when an emerging country gains power and confronts an established power, the likelihood of war between the two countries is over 70%
- China is working on developing a asymmetric warfare strategy of using cheap mobile missiles to counter the U.S. forces centering on aircraft carriers and military bases in its allied countries.
Asia will see a huge military conflict in the next 5 years
In his latest book, “The Determination to Realize Prosperity,” Master Ryuho Okawa refers to the possibility of a military clash with China under the Trump administration. He says;
“If the current situation continues, Asia will see a huge military conflict in the next 5 years. Specifically, this will occur along with the Trump’s assumption of the presidency.”
“In the long run, I think this will turn out to be ‘creative destruction.’ A time is coming for Japan and the U.S. to regain power, and show the world where the global pivot indisputably lies.”
We hope that after 2017, the U.S. will regain strength and put a foot down on China’s self-serving behavior economically and militarily.