Economic Deal or Military Confrontation?

China Plus Published: 2017-11-09 16:53:01
Comment
Share
Share this with Close
Messenger Messenger Pinterest LinkedIn

By Hichem Karoui 

Trump's negative rhetoric about China, should not be considered outside of its context.

We remember that he has promised to declare China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office, to bring it to account for “stealing” technology, allowing sub-standard working conditions and loose environmental controls. Trump has also proposed providing additional arms to China’s neighbors and imposing a 45% duty on Chinese goods. But in fact, this is the way Trump starts negotiating a deal. He had also depicted Saudi Arabia and the US Gulf allies in the harshest terms, before accepting an invitation to the Summit of Riyadh in May 2017!

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, holds a ceremony to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump at the square outside the east gate of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, November 9, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, holds a ceremony to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump at the square outside the east gate of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, November 9, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua]

The Valdai Club paper ( January 2017) noted that Trump views the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region more as a tool for exerting pressure on Beijing regarding economic policy, than  as a means for ensuring stability in the region! Hence, they deduce, it is possible that, under Trump, the US  position concerning the South China Sea will directly  depend on the quality of trade relations.

Ostensibly, China has long enough stressed this aspect of international relations, basically founded on solid mutual interests. 

The "win-win" relationship is indeed a key-concept in China‘s official discourse, and probably more so under Xi Jinping than any previous leader. If there is a moment that we may describe as propitious to better China-US understanding, it is likely now, in this era. If we need to compare the present era with that of Mao-Nixon's, we should certainly consider that today the challenges and the hurdles may even sound harder. Still, however painful the efforts needed to surmount them may appear, there is more to gain from honoring mutual commitment to peaceful cooperation, than from falling into the trap of greed, vanity and confrontation. 

Mr. Donald Trump, it is understood, is accountable for his successes and failures, to the people of the United States. He has been elected to look after their interests inside and outside the country. And so does Mr. Xi Jinping. Both are able to reach an agreement about the most urgent issues. They have already paved the way to such a comprehensive "entente", in Mar-a-Lago; and they are expected to build on what they had constructed.

That is why it is important never to miss an opportunity to advance common work and action on mutual interests and concerns.

Never before had the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East regions, witnessed more accumulated dangers threatening the security and stability of millions and millions of people. 

Dark and even horrific scenarios had been imagined, and conceived as probabilities, in varied think tanks, in different countries. Relying on the analysis of quantitative data and measurable variables, social scientists forewarn us against the dangers of sliding imperceptibly to confrontation before exhausting all diplomatic means. 

Two thorny issues facing the US administration may result into generalized wars:  the North Korean, and the Iranian/Gulf. Both are related to the problem of nuclear and missiles proliferation.  China is sensitive to the outcome, because of its relations with both nations, and with the USA. It could be of good advice to Trump to hear from Xi. The Chinese president is more interested in an economic deal than in wars.

Trump has already said that China is the key to solving the North Korean nuclear issue. He surely intends to lobby Beijing into pressuring Pyongyang. 

Indeed, Xi and Trump hold and defend different interests, whether in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. They are the two most influent global powers in these regions, not for their military might, but because of their economic clout. 

A military "solution" for the US problem with Pyongyang or Teheran, would not be a hopeful solution, but one option by despair. Trump hopes that China could help him deal with these two issues. But is he ready to pay the price for that? For example, would he accept to engage Pyongyang and Teheran into dialogue for an economic development deal, as a substitute to their military ambitions?

(Hichem Karoui is Senior Fellow at the Center for China and Globalization.)

Related stories

Share this story on

Columnists

Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N Tzogopoulos is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE), Advisor on EU-China Relations as well as Lecturer at the European Institute of Nice and the Democritus University of Thrace. He is also Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and coordinator of its Asian Studies Programme. George is the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. His first book: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism was published by IB TAURIS and his second one: The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press by Ashgate. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades. Duncan Bartlett Duncan Bartlett is the Editor of Asian Affairs, a monthly news magazine. As well as writing regularly for China Plus he also contributes to Japanese newspapers including the Sankei and the Nikkei. He writes weekly blog called Japan Story. He has previously worked as a journalist for the BBC, the Economist and Independent Television News. Stephane Grand Stephane Grand is the principal of an international accounting and management consulting firm in Greater China. Stephane has advised hundreds of foreign investors over the last 25 years of his presence in China. He holds a Ph.D. in Chinese corporate law from La Sorbonne (Paris), a Masters degree from the Fletcher School (Boston), and an MBA from HEC (Paris). He is an active commentator of business in China.