Advertise On EU-Digest

Anual Advertising Rates

12/16/16

US - China Relations: Trump’s Swaggering Sparks War Talk from China  

In mid-summer 2015, the Pentagon deployed a vast fleet to the Western Pacific with an invasion force of 33,000 troops. The little reported exercise was supported by warplanes and attack helicopters, along with 21 ships, including the aircraft carrier George Washington and three nuclear missile-bearing submarines.

It was only a game, the Navy said. But it looked very much like practice for the real thing on or near Chinese shores. On the night of July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—Operation Talisman Saber kicked off with U.S. high-altitude paratroopers dropping from the sky near Fog Bay, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Naval artillery boomed. Tanks rolled ashore. The invasion was on.

A U.S. Navy press release made it sound routine, an “exercise [that] illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance…” But Military Times, a close observer of the Defense Department, put its finger on what it was really about: “Talisman Sabre: Trying to Deter China,” its headline said.

The problem with The Coming War on China is that it’s not so much about a future conflict as it is a dramatic rehash of America’s march to military supremacy in the Pacific, including updates on local resistance to U.S. bases. While it offers a salutary alternative to the often frantic media reports about China’s militarization of islets in the South China Sea, it only vaguely recognizes  that Beijing may be overreaching. Now the “unthinkable,” a military clash between the two, has suddenly became all too thinkable—even inevitable, in some circles. When President-elect Trump triggered Beijing’s wrath by taking  a telephone call from Taiwan’s pro-independence leader in early December—threatening four decades of diplomatic stability—the two countries inched closer to the type of incident that could lead to a dangerous string of tit-for-tat reprisals. Trump’s further disparagement of China in the following days only ratcheted up the potential for a face-saving showdown.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping has plenty of power in the Politburo to deal with Trump on several contentious matters, starting with trade, he has none on Taiwan’s status, analysts firmly believe. Beijing’s bedrock policy on Taiwan, reiterated for decades in official documents and private conversations with foreign visitors, is that the island has been a renegade province ever since U.S.-backed nationalist forces retreated there in 1949. With the triumph of its revolution in 1950, the Chinese Communist Party ended more than a century of repeated humiliations at the hands of foreign invaders—except for “breakaway” Taiwan. And it will not countenance any efforts by Trump to declare Taiwan free, says Fu Ying, a former Chinese ambassador to Britain and now spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress. “History matters,” she told a group of visiting reporters, including Newsweek’s Jonathan Broder, in June. “We’ve lost enough.”

Xi will not risk being seen as “soft” on Taiwan, Wang Dong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, tells Newsweek. "If the upcoming Trump administration pursues policies that tramp on China's core interests—sovereignty and territorial integrity—then they shouldn't expect anything short of a forceful response.”In mid-summer 2015, the Pentagon deployed a vast fleet to the Western Pacific with an invasion force of 33,000 troops. The little reported exercise was supported by warplanes and attack helicopters, along with 21 ships, including the aircraft carrier George Washington and three nuclear missile-bearing submarines.

It was only a game, the Navy said. But it looked very much like practice for the real thing on or near Chinese shores. On the night of July 4—Independence Day in the U.S.—Operation Talisman Saber kicked off with U.S. high-altitude paratroopers dropping from the sky near Fog Bay, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Naval artillery boomed. Tanks rolled ashore. The invasion was on.

A U.S. Navy press release made it sound routine, an “exercise [that] illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance…” But Military Times, a close observer of the Defense Department, put its finger on what it was really about: “Talisman Sabre: Trying to Deter China,” its headline said.

The problem with The Coming War on China is that it’s not so much about a future conflict as it is a dramatic rehash of America’s march to military supremacy in the Pacific, including updates on local resistance to U.S. bases. While it offers a salutary alternative to the often frantic media reports about China’s militarization of islets in the South China Sea, it only vaguely recognizes  that Beijing may be overreaching. Now the “unthinkable,” a military clash between the two, has suddenly became all too thinkable—even inevitable, in some circles. When President-elect Trump triggered Beijing’s wrath by taking  a telephone call from Taiwan’s pro-independence leader in early December—threatening four decades of diplomatic stability—the two countries inched closer to the type of incident that could lead to a dangerous string of tit-for-tat reprisals. Trump’s further disparagement of China in the following days only ratcheted up the potential for a face-saving showdown.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping has plenty of power in the Politburo to deal with Trump on several contentious matters, starting with trade, he has none on Taiwan’s status, analysts firmly believe. Beijing’s bedrock policy on Taiwan, reiterated for decades in official documents and private conversations with foreign visitors, is that the island has been a renegade province ever since U.S.-backed nationalist forces retreated there in 1949. With the triumph of its revolution in 1950, the Chinese Communist Party ended more than a century of repeated humiliations at the hands of foreign invaders—except for “breakaway” Taiwan. And it will not countenance any efforts by Trump to declare Taiwan free, says Fu Ying, a former Chinese ambassador to Britain and now spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress. “History matters,” she told a group of visiting reporters, including Newsweek’s Jonathan Broder, in June. “We’ve lost enough.”

Read more: Trump’s Swaggering Sparks War Talk from China  

No comments: