02/05/2020, 13.23
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Trump focuses on good relations with China, except for Huawei and South China Sea

Speaking to Congress, the US president claims victory in the trade war with China, but an overall deal with Beijing remains elusive. Washington continues to oppose Huawei, is sending its warships into waters claimed by China, and plans to deploy hypersonic missiles to Japan.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In his State of the Union address to Congress yesterday, US President Donald Trump praised the recent trade deal with Beijing, noting that “we have perhaps the best relationship we have ever had with China”.

The deal is the first stage of negotiations meant to end the ongoing trade war between the two superpowers.

For Trump, the agreement resets power relations between his country and the Chinese juggernaut, which he has accused of harming US workers with unfair trade practices, as well as stealing intellectual property from US firms, especially in the technological sector.

The US president is expected to use his "victory" in the trade war with China to bolster his re-election campaign.

The second phase of talks with China will be uphill however as the coronavirus outbreak could negatively affect trade between the two countries.

Washington's growing military presence in the disputed waters of the South China Sea could also adversely affect relations between the two rivals.

The Trump administration’s opposition to 5G technology from the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, and sales to China by US high tech companies of products deemed sensitive in terms of national security are the main obstacles to an overall deal with Beijing.

According to press reports, the US president will meet on 28 February with officials from government agencies to examine further limitations on Huawei's activities.

The Trump administration has harshly criticised the European Union and Great Britain for allowing the use, albeit limited, of Huawei technology in building their 5G internet networks.

Meanwhile, the “cold war” between China and the United States continues in the South China Sea, where Beijing’s territorial claims over certain areas are challenged by other countries, most notably Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.

For years, the US Navy has exercised the right of passage near a number of coral islands and reefs that China has turned into logistical and military outposts.

The US goal is to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in waters claimed by China.

According to information released today by the US Pacific Fleet, US warships sailed near the Paracel and Spratly islands seven times in 2019, five times in 2018, six in 2017, three in 2016 and two in 2015.

US naval operations also extend to the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea, two other areas of high geopolitical tensions involving China.

The United States is the guarantor of both the defence of Taiwan, which mainland China considers a rebel province, and Japan, which administers the Senkaku islands, claimed by China.

On 10 January, US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that the US could deploy new hypersonic missiles capable of flying at Mach 5 (more than 6,000 km/h) on the Senkakus and other islands in Southern Japan.

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