THE Chinese officials were looking at the American elections with great hope as they envisaged the presidency of Donald Trump as relief from mounting hostility with the departing Obama’s administration. The remarks about China by Donald Trump, before elections, were taken as no more than a political gambit to win electoral support; but the president-elect’s recent provocative remarks are regarded now in China as a new deliberate and aggressive United States policy against China’s rising economic and military power that seeks reshaping of bilateral relations between the two biggest economies.
Taiwan is a key player in the new belligerent United States strategy towards China as Trump spoke on phone to Taiwanese president on December 2_ a break with US policy of decades long as the US officially did not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, separated from mainland China. In the previous two weeks, Trump took a series of public swipes at China when he accused China manipulating its currency, constructing “a massive fortress” in the South China Sea and deliberately not doing sufficient to pressure Kim Jong-un’s North Korea.
When Goldman Sachs predicted in 2007 that Chinese economy will replace the US economy in 2027 as the biggest economy, there was a lot of criticism and suspicion on this estimate. But, Mike Patton, in 2016, has predicted in forbes that the Chinese GDP will replace the US GDP as the greatest GDP in 2018. Furthermore, he opined that China’s relative economic power is increasing as China’s contribution to global economic output increased from 4.1 percent in 1970 to 15.6 percent in 2015.On the other hand, the US relative economic might is decreasing significantly as its contribution in global economy has dwindled.
This huge economic power made China able to increase its defense spending 10 per cent last year, and it is reported that Chinese budget will be doubled between 2010 and 2020, outspending all the countries of Western Europe. Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official, warned that China has set a clandestine 100-year plan to displace the United States as the global superpower. Similarly Representative Randy Forbes supports a huge naval buildup to threaten Beijing in the Asia-Pacific. Based on these suggestions, Trump endeavors to confront Beijing’s mounting military and economic prowess in the region by embracing Taiwan, positioning more ships and planes and entering in more basing agreements with partners like Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan.
The Pentagon, too, seems to endorse new anti-China policy as it is more eager to flex its muscles in the South China Sea. Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said on Wednesday that the United States is prepared to tackle China if it continues its violent behavior in the South China Sea. He said, “We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally, no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea”.
Therefore, the recent controversial statement of Trump regarding China should is well calculated part of new US anti-China strategy. But, White House and Pentagon should take one thing in view that to question “One China” policy is a matter of civilisational heritage for the Chinese and this can disrupt the “low profile” Chinese administration policy adopted since Deng Xiaoping.
The Ambassador, Cui Tiankai, told US company executives: “Basic norms of international relations should be observed, not ignored, certainly not be seen as something you can trade off. And indeed, national sovereignty and territorial integrity are not bargaining chips. Absolutely not. I hope everybody would understand that,” Reuters quoted him as saying. Similarly, Barak Obama, speaking on Friday, urged his successor to be careful of infuriating a “very significant” rejoinder from Beijing over Taiwan.
– The writer is a PhD Researcher in IR at IIU, Islamabad.