It’s not just Western allies who are closely watching president-elect Trump for signs of how his foreign policy will shape up. China is carefully eyeing the prospect for the deployment of an anti-missile system in South Korea as an early tell for clues as to American priorities in 2017 and beyond, Reuters reports:
Whether President-elect Donald Trump goes through with a deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea will be a key indicator to how political ties unfold with China, sources with ties to the leadership in Beijing said. […]
South Korea and the United States have agreed to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to counter missile threats from North Korea. It is expected to be in place within eight to 10 months, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said earlier this month.
China has argued the planned deployment undermines strategic stability in Northeast Asia, and worries that THAAD’s powerful radar provides coverage of China’s missile installations.
On the campaign trail, Trump has questioned America’s traditional security commitments in Asia and even raised the possibility of Japan and South Korea acquiring nukes. More recently, one adviser has suggested that Trump would aggressively push back against any Chinese attempts to change the security status quo in Asia.
But traditional U.S. allies are not being completely ignored. Today at Trump Tower, the president-elect was set to meet with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hopes to gain reassurances about Trump’s continued commitment of the U.S.-Japanese alliance. And earlier, Trump fielded a phone call from South Korea’s President Park Gun-hye, who says Trump made a commitment to upholding South Korean defense ties, despite his rhetoric on the campaign trail.
A lesson, then, for all in the media who are ready to pounce on every crumb of information, however shoddily sourced, that presumably sheds light on what is going on in Trump Tower these days: be more like the Xi and Putin regimes, and wait and observe. It’s far from clear yet how things are going to ultimately play out.