The Trump era begins: The China-US relationship and the risk of war
As the inauguration ceremony of the Trump presidency approaches, the Propaganda Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party has banned all journalists from “unauthorized criticism" of Trump’ words and deeds. According to the great dissident Wei Jingsheng there is a chance that Trump will force China into fair trade deals, possibly leading to political and legal reforms. A trade war is an option.
Washington (AsiaNews) – The Propaganda Bureau of the Communist Party of China wants media coverage of President Donald Trump’s inauguration today "handled with care". More specifically, "Any reporting on Trump must be handled with care, and no unauthorized criticism of his words or actions will be permitted.”
The note of caution expressed in this order is at odds with the irony and criticism heaped upon Trump weeks ago after he accused China of being a "currency manipulator", threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports for destroying US jobs, said that he did not feel bound by the One-China policy, and spoke to the president of Taiwan on the phone.
Many Asia analysts are afraid of a trade war – and perhaps even a real war for control of the South China Sea – like Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo who said that it would be better for the two superpowers not to clash.
It should be noted that several Chinese dissidents living in the United States, like Yang Jianli, feel honoured to be present at the inauguration ceremony in Washington. They hope that Trump will support the cause of human rights in a stronger way than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who were blackmailed by business lobbies.
For Wei Jingsheng, the "father of democracy" in China, now in exile in the US, there will be war between China and the United States, and China will be forced to change many aspects of its economy and society.
Here is his reflection.
Now we are sure of several things related to Donald Trump's presidency:
1) Donald Trump will be the next president of the USA, thus a weak foreign policy of the Obama Administration will come to an end.
2) Trump's key policy is to adjust unreasonable trade relations; the focus of this policy is so-called "free trade" to be adjusted to "fair trade" relations.
3) The target is locked at the largest unfair trading nation -- China.
4) Donald Trump is ready to stop the means of negotiation used in the past, instead using a blockade of the market, that is a trade war, to force China and other trading countries to accept fair trade rules.
5) In his international strategy, there is a trend of easing the relationship with Russia, focusing on the expansion by China.
6) Uniting in alliance with countries in Asia and India to suppress China's strategic expansion, and to force or induce the Southeast Asian countries to return to the embrace of the United States.
The above is what is happening even before Donald Trump takes over the White House. To summarize these facts, we can see that the main target is the Communist regime in China. There are two main goals: one is the Sino-US trade relation, while the other is the control of the East and South China Seas. Does Trump have the opportunity to win these two battles? Or does Xi have a chance to win any of them? Let us make a rough analysis.
Regarding the Sino-US trade relations, Trump has to adjust them. The experience in the past shows that negotiations with the Chinese government cannot change its hooliganism. As the so-called pacifist Mohandas Gandhi said, when a gang of armed robbers come to the village, there is not way to negotiate but to kick them out by force. This is what police are for. The United States happens to be the world police.
What is the weapon of the USA? That is the US market. In the past, China blocked its own market while dumping its goods to the United States, which made the capitalists in both China and the United States earn excess profits while the United States has lost a lot of jobs. Trump's ultimate goal is to balance trade between China and the United States, and to expand the US employment rate.
What is Trump's offensive? Under the premise that China takes advantage of the trade yet is not planning to open its market, Trump is ready to take the lead in launching a trade war, blocking the US market and preventing China's cheap goods from entering the United States. Whatever the reaction from China, this measure must win; it will result in the US manufacturing industry rebounding and the employment rate rising.
What will be Xi Jinping's reaction? From the pro-Communist media, a useful idea is to prepare for a trade war with the United States. They hope that Trump will be like the US presidents of the past, being tough before taking office and compromising with the capitalists afterwards. Thus the trade war is turned into a bluff with everything still as usual. Not only the Chinese Communist Party, but also the American capitalists which made a fortune such as the Boeing Company also hold such a fantasy.
Unfortunately, this is really an illusion. Trump himself is not short of money and his cabinet is satirized as a mix of rich men and military personnel, which makes the traditional buyout and control policy of the Communist Party and big businesses difficult to accomplish. So Xi Jinping can only take the trade war.
As we all know, in a trade war who controls the market will be the winner. Like a contest of the chess masters, the outcome can already be calculated. As the ancient military strategists said, to calculate for a victory first insuring one would win after entering the war. Trump's only trouble is inside but not outside -- to convince those politicians and the businesses that support them to understand the situation is not so easy.
Xi Jinping's acceptance of a trade war will not last long, and he will inevitably be defeated. China's domestic unemployment rate is rising, so the situation is certainly unstable. At this time, Xi Jinping may have two reactions: one is to launch a war to ease the internal conflicts; the other is to reach a compromise with the United States -- to accept the fair trade rules and to protect trade opportunities. I estimate that Xi Jinping will accept the opinions of Chinese military hawks to launch a war.
The issue is that Trump has also expected this possibility and absorbed a large group of US military hawks into his cabinet. Also, after eased relations with Russia, he will deploy a large amount of military power to East Asia. So what target will Xi Jinping choose? Japan and South Korea are allies of the USA, with US garrisons there, so the US military is bound to intervene, and Xi Jinping will fail if he initiates war there.
Vietnam and Taiwan are also not easy bones to chew on. With improper excuses to launch attacks against them, along with the denouncement of the international community and even their coming to support these targets, a delay of the war will result in chaos in China. To block the South China Sea against Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will also not work. A few small islands there plus the air force and naval strength of the Chinese Communist regime may be enough to deal with the navy and air force of the small countries in Southeast Asia, the really is not capable of opposing the US battle groups with aircraft carriers, so these actions can only be like picking up the stones to smash his own feet.
The only opponent with a good excuse and that can be defeated is North Korea. In the name of resolving North Korea's nuclear weapons, this war will be tolerated and even assisted by the international community. There is no reason for the United States, Japan and South Korea to stop China or to help North Korea. That would be against the will of the international community and would not be the choice of the United States.
The only possible unhappy one is Russia. North Korea has always been Russia's possible expansion of influence. But to the West of Russia, there is the trouble of NATO, as well as the eyeing of the East European countries. It is impossible for Russia to help North Korea and thus offend China, so Xi Jinping using his military against North Korea is a possible choice.
But North Korea is not an easy piece to chew on either. There were many people who opposed the Kim family dynasty. But under the influence of the obscurantist policies of the Communist Party, the resistance against aggression under the patriotic flag is still great. If the war cannot end quickly, it may still cause a domestic instability leading to the collapse of the regime in China.
After the above analysis, we can see that the choice of war by Xi Jinping would result in either defeat or a standoff. So his best option is to reach a fair trade agreement with the United States, and start political and judicial reform. Because to suffocate the Communist regime is not the target of Donald Trump, nor in the interests of the United States. What Trump wants is fair trade with the world's second-largest economy.
Political and judicial reform is the interest for China. Without the protection of human rights there is no increase in the income of the working-class, thus no expansion of the domestic market in China. Without political and judicial reform, there is no improvement of business environment, thus enterprises will continue to flee in a large number. Without an opening of the market, Chinese enterprises cannot quickly introduce advanced technology and management, and will not be able to adapt to competition in the fair trade environment.
So no matter who is in power, quickly reaching a fair trade agreement with the United States is China's only way out.