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Asia's Game of Thrones
Is China Trying to Play Trump?
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  • vb

    Isn’t our ambassador to China a man who has known Xi for a long time? I wonder what input he is giving Trump on the situation. I never see him mentioned.

    • D4x

      Gov Branstad finally had his confirmation hearing on May 2. No date yet for vote out of committee, or full Senate vote. However, one can assume Branstad has shared his insights on Xi to POTUS.

      • vb

        Thanks for the info. As I said, I haven’t heard him mentioned.

        • D4x

          Whole lot of real news getting lost since the inauguration. When a confirmation hearing goes well – no outrage sound bites for the ‘resistance’ to echo – it’s like that tree falling in the forest: no one heard a normal confirmation hearing.
          Plus, C-Span seems intent on confusing coverage. Weird, because C-Span is funded by cable operators. I gave up when C-Span cut their live coverage of the WH Easter Egg Roll on April 17 to an old tape of Loretta Lynch.

  • Jim__L

    When Trump runs out of “patience”, he should start fulfilling campaign promises to get tough on Beijing in terms of trade and currency issues.

    Honestly, I think with the Nork issue he may just be trying to open up space to do that. Keep in mind that the Nork threat has been with us for about fifteen years; resolving it is definitely desirable, but novel types of disaster are not immanent, and it’s not sliding us further in a negative direction, like China’s trade deals.

    China probably knows this too and it’s why they’re not going to help Trump make the deals he wants, but Trump can still force the issue with refusal to help on the Nork issue as cover.

    What we need with our China strategy is a path to victory whatever the Chinese choose. This is it.

  • ——————————

    Okay, so the commentary in this article is based on reports from the NYT, the Washington Post, etc., and it’s about Trump…why even bother to write the article….

    • D4x

      Exactly what I was thinking…in addition to “can we wait until after South Korea votes on May 9 (tomorrow!) before we speculate on what will happen with North Korea?”

      • ——————————

        Better would be for paid commentators to stop making most of what they write or speak, speculation. I am only interested in facts, not speculation or opinion. Speculation is for us in the comment section.

        Opinions are like rear ends…everybody has one, but they all stink….

    • D4x
      • ——————————

        Looks like they got the drilling costs way down. Drill baby, drill!

        BTW, the article is free on Fox Business

  • KremlinKryptonite

    My job, here in Seoul, has required me to basically live and breathe China and the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the DPRK and Kim Dynasty, for more than a decade now. I can say I am definitely worried for the president. Of course, I don’t believe his optimistic pronouncements which border on the absurd (that he and Xi are good buddies now), but Trump is trying to corner Xi and play upon Xi’s own vanity. Not gonna cut it.

    The best example thus far was his early-morning tweet about the North Korean missile test in which he said something to the effect of “North Korea just launched another missile, totally disrespected China’s great president”…. yawn. Not gonna work. And hasn’t worked.

    Clearly, Trump has only very recently been given the basic rundown on who’s who and what’s what within the CCP…And that’s understandable. The vast majority of people on this planet don’t know much about it. Intelligence services, analysts, academics all have trouble keeping up with the fluid power structure within the CCP. It’s very opaque, and worse things often aren’t as they seem. In other words, reading a textbook or skimming Wikipedia doesn’t really tell you much. You can’t simply cram for it like you would a test.

    • Unelected Leader

      Yeah and Kushner isn’t helping. Just chasing Chinese money. And shouldn’t even be there.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        Yes, I do find the presence of Trumps nearly middle age daughter and son-in-law to be inappropriate, and it does appear Kushner is an impediment to any meaningful China policy. At the end of the day, Trump is setting himself up for massive and predictable failure if he genuinely thinks that the regime in Beijing is going to solve the NK problem. The height of foolishness. Worse, it has already been tried.

        Not only did the regime in Beijing help create the problem, but they are waging economic warfare right now against SK and making a bigger deal about THAAD than they ever did about their patsies in Pyongyang creating the danger justifying THAAD.

        • D4x

          fwiw, Jared is 36, and Ivanka is 35, not quite “middle-aged”. By all accounts, it was China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai, who first approached Jared Kushner in early February, about a meeting between Xi and POTUS:

          https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-07/china-courts-ivanka-jared-kushner-to-smooth-ties-with-trump

          That weekend meeting at Mar-a-Lago, by all accounts, went very well. Certainly an improvement over former POTUS Obama’s exit out the back door of Air Force One last September in Hangzhou: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/04/barack-obama-deliberately-snubbed-by-chinese-in-chaotic-arrival-at-g20

          As for Kushner’s sister in China? At least now more people know how things have been done, to tempt Chinese into investing in North America.

          Bannonites are oddly allied with the far left ‘resistance’ to send JaVanka to an actual guillotine.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Exactly. They are a lot closer to 40 than 20 or even 25. You’re drifting far afield here. This is not what the article is about, or my comment. I certainly have a problem with nepotism. Ironically, nepotism is how the CCP and many others regime types operate. It would always make me uncomfortable, but I could easily put it out of my head for the most part if he hadn’t been chasing Chinese redbacks.

          • D4x

            It was his sister chasing future anchor babies. And, I disagree that Kushner family business will somehow kill any progress with China-NorK.
            Nepotism-hysteria in a nation where Bush, Kennedy, and Clinton are undeserving political dynasties is too much hypocrisy for me.
            Exiting this thread so you can stay on topic with the Bannonites.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Non sequitur. Why would you think that I’m interested in the Bush, Clintons or the Kennedys after I just bashed nepotism? You’re just not paying attention.
            Not to sound like a pretentious you know what, but I know more about this than you, Kushner, and Bannon (Bannon had a similar job to mine in Naval intelligence… about 40 years ago).

          • Unelected Leader

            Never mind D4x. Either a Trump sycophant who won’t hold him accountable, or worse, is trying to lead him astray by supporting nepotism beneficiary extraordinaire, Vice President Kushner.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Precisely. I mean, I voted for Trump not because I’m some diehard fan, but because Hillary Clinton was so unsuccessful and frankly disastrous. Also, he does not appear to have a penchant for regime change in the way that Hillary Clinton did, kept his promise to kill TPP – was a disaster [for average joe Americans] waiting to happen – and because he does not want to micromanage the military or give it a lofty goal and then kneecap its efforts.

            It’s precisely because I voted for him that I want him to succeed. It’s also why I will do as much as I can to hold him accountable if he is flip-flopping, not aggressively pursuing what he himself prioritized as candidate Trump, etc.

          • D4x

            “Bannonites” are acolytes of Bannon’s populist nationalism viciously attacking Jared because they believe Jared is a ‘cosmopolitan’ trying to oust true nationalist Steve Bannon from the WH. One Bannonite is in this thread.

            MY opinion, expressed in disagreement with YOU: “Nepotism-hysteria in a nation where Bush, Kennedy, and Clinton are undeserving political dynasties is too much hypocrisy for me.”

            Do I care if you are interested in this opinion?
            No Sir! YOU only want fealty to your superior insights, no dissent tolerated. Had enough of that condescending intolerance for dissent past eight years.

          • Unelected Leader

            Dude! You’re just projecting lol. For whatever reason you have, you are trying to defend nepotism and Kushner. KremlinKryptonite didn’t say anything about Bannon until you did. And if somebody works in the Pentagon or in an embassy somewhere in Asia, yeah, they will know a lot more about this stuff than you, and everybody at TAI and TNI and STRATFOR and CSIS and CFR and so on.

          • D4x

            The normal definition of nepotism is that kinship is the primary factor, NEVER competence.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b8ca7a74170c3e3486324a9de0ddc6d43dd8e2c5cf87d5998819e363b2d5b24a.jpg

            Perhaps someone at the Chinese Embassy read this about Kushner online on Nov 22, 2016 (in print edition of Dec 20 2016), https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2016/11/22/exclusive-interview-how-jared-kushner-won-trump-the-white-house/#3ae16973af68

            and passed it on to Ambassador Tiankai, who thought maybe Kushner was a good channel to the next POTUS since the confirmation of Tillerson as SecState was so contentious, and the confirmation vote was not until Feb. 1, 2017. Possibly the Ambassador was happy that Ivanka and Arabella showed up at the Embassy on Feb. 1, even touched when Arabella sang in Mandarin.
            http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2017-02/03/content_28095752.htm
            You, Unelected Leader, dragged Kushner into this thread, characteristic of Bannonites who want Jared’s head on a stake. Own it!
            Admiration and respect for the entire Trump family is NOT (yet) a capital offense. Just feels like it.

          • Unelected Leader

            Yeah sure yeah lmao. That’s why Jared Kushner’s dad had to donate $2.5 million to Harvard and lo and behold ‘lil Jared gets accepted LOL. A young man whose daddy bought him into college, never served in the military, and isn’t particularly old and seasoned just managed to get a job at the White House with his father-in-law dur dur dur. Jared was on a shortlist indeed, being the one and only hubby of Donald’s favorite kid.

          • D4x

            Yes, $2.5 million does seem a high price to offset the four strikes: white, male,YeshivaHS, northeast; based on the known criteria for admission at Harvard and the other ‘elite’ schools’.

            Guess $2.5 million was the offset for a convicted felon for a father.

            Yawn, good night.

          • MyWord245

            Common you can’t be serious defending JaVanka enterprise. I don’t know if its nepotism or graft or both, but it doesn’t look good. Your defense of Jared as a victim of elitism is not worthy. Trump is playing with a well oiled global political machine that is China. They created Pakistan to deal with India and NK against Japan. They will play the waiting game. I am truly interested in seeing if there is a real alternate. Candidate Trump talked about Japan and SK becoming nuclear capable. Should he pursue that along side Taiwan to call Chinese bluff.

          • D4x

            Known criteria for admission, since 1969 when Yale went co-ed, also include geographic diversity, and, unstated since the late 1960’s, not too many Jews, especially observant ones.
            That is not elitism. It is reality: known criteria for admission.

            Does not mean anything but what you need it to mean.

            with malice toward none

          • MyWord245

            We are way off the topic. Nevertheless, I totally agree that Jews are being penalized –so are Asians. But I never saw any information that suggests that Jared is otherwise immensely qualified. That’s my point

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Yeah that’s a lot of money to buy him a spot. But that’s not really my concern, and it’s an old story. That’s more a factor of being born into extreme privilege, and Trump himself qualifies for that category. If I’m going to worry about anything it’ll be the nepotism and seeming conflicts of interest in China. Of course the MSM snatches defeat from the jaws the victory – talking about nonsense Russian conflicts whereas the story appears to be China. BUT! Affiliates of the CCP have paid big bucks to various MSM outlets, including the NYT, for front page material.

    • Angel Martin

      “My job, here in Seoul, has required me to basically live and breathe China and the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the DPRK and Kim Dynasty, for more than a decade now. ”

      Stratfor has observed that every time in the last 20 years that there was increased trade pressure in China, NKorea acted up. With the result that China would get them under control, and the US would back off on the trade front.

      To me it seems to fit but I’m just a casual observer. I’d like your assessment of this theory.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        I would say yours is a very accurate view. It’s certainly no secret that the CCP uses trouble caused by the Kim regime to extract concessions of its own, even for merely perceived help. The Kim regime is also a useful distraction to keep the US and its allies off balance.

        2011 was a critical year for two reasons. Obviously, Kim Jong il died at the end of the year. That is certainly important because Kim Jong il did not wield as much power as his father had, and in fact he had to rely on “gift politics” aka bribery to keep powerbrokers in the regime on his side. It really got quite exotic. We saw North Korean agents using Chinese passports gallivanting around the world, especially Europe, shipping back, often via china, gold plated hunting rifles, sports cars, designer clothes, cosmetics, candy, and all sorts of luxury goods.
        However, Kim Jong Un has even less claim to fame, so the enforcement of sanctions on luxury goods could truly bring his regime down on top of him. The ball is in Beijing’s court. Still they don’t act nearly as meaningfully as they could.

        However, perhaps more importantly, 2011 was also an important year because data was available – the jury was in on the first 10 years of china being a member of the WTO (it joined in December, 2001), and the numbers were/are fairly catastrophic for the US.

        3,280,000 jobs lost to Chinese imports. A meager 538,000 jobs created due to US exports to China. One need not be a math whiz to see a major problem. But it gets worse. Of the 538,000 jobs created, their average weekly pay is about $827. By stark contrast, of the 2.7 million net jobs lost, their average weekly pay was $1050 per week! Ouch.
        This is in part because 1.1 million of those 3.3 million total lost where in computer and electronics manufacturing – a full third of the total.

        Now, nobody really believed that the TPP loving Barack Obama was going to press the issue, but it was predicted to become a much more major issue for the electorate, and indeed it has. And this is why it is so critical for Trump to keep his promises in this regard. The consolation is that even if he reneges on his promise this term, then at least the issue is guaranteed to be injected in future elections, and he will be hammered for it in 2020.

        • Angel Martin

          Thank you for the detailed reply. I sure do agree with you on the manuf impact. There is an economic impact. There is also a military impact on future wars.

          How do you read the criticism back and forth between NKorea and China ? It does represent a change from past behavior. It it a fake fight ? Or real ?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Certainly some of it is real, and for the same reasons that a child throws a tantrum. They do it precisely because they understand the power dynamic, and they understand that it’s not going to change.
            However, it’s an imperfect analogy because certainly a degree of this NK-China fighting is totally orchestrated as well. And it would be a real tragedy for Trump to fall for it.

    • Shivermetimbers

      Since 1952, China has created and sustained this problem and they have played it time to time to gain concessions from the US. However, it cannot be in their interests to see Japan or SK increase sophisticated missile defense and / or building nuclear deterrence of their own. Therefore, what is the likelihood that they realize they have to stop this from developing further, but will ask for a HUGE price.

      What is the price and who wins?

      • KremlinKryptonite

        That’s right, and it’s an unintended consequence of bad policy. The re-militarization of Japan and talk of even more doctrinal change from pacifism is more a function of CCP aggression in the SCS and ECS, however. As for NK, look no further than THAAD. The CCP has made a bigger deal out of it than they ever have of their ally creating the dangerous situation in the first place.

        They’ve turned it into a political issue in Korea and elsewhere, and they are waging economic warfare against Korea. What has Trump said about it? Nothing. It’s very frustrating. He needs to listen to those of us who have been out here for years now, and we have a god’s eye view of all the mistakes Clinton, Bush, Obama have made. Thus far, he is wandering down the same path to failure.
        If Trump keeps up the same tired, tried, failed strategy then there is precisely 0.00% chance the CCP will change course.

        • f1b0nacc1

          THAAD is a serious problem for the Chinese, one (as you correctly point out) of their own making. I wonder about what precisely is it that they don’t want surveilled…..

    • Are you a foreign journalist of some kind?

      • KremlinKryptonite

        No no. Actually just answered this on another thread. I’m here with the military. Working for the Farragut Technical Analysis Center which is part of the Office of Naval Intelligence. But really I’m working for the state department here because I’m more of a liaison between ONI and the State Department’s INR (Bureau of Intelligence and Research). And I’ve lived in Japan and now Korea. Been in Korea just shy of a decade.

  • Mike

    Trump is a weak man, he will not be able to sustain pressure. Besides, the Chinese may well know something to blackmail him. Last time, it took Mr. Xi ten minutes to achieve all he wanted. This time it will be even easier.

  • f1b0nacc1

    I have yet to see any serious discussion of what Trump could do that would unravel the mess in the SCS. I am afraid that much as we all may regret it, that ship has sailed (forgive the pun), and we are now stuck with the reality of dealing with the facts on the ground (OK, I promise to stop with the puns). The Chinese are not going to abandon those very expensive bases that they have built (in fact they are reinforcing them with steadily more serious weaponry and sensors), and they will likely use this as the basis to incrementally impose sovereignty over a vast area. Short of a united economic effort against them (inconceivable, particularly given the nature of the players in the region) or a major, and very ugly, military campaign, the Chinese have imposed their will and there is nothing we can do about it.

    We can discuss how much better it would have been if the previous administration had dealt with this problem when it was still possible to do so, but that pointless at this stage. We should be aggressively working to build a coalition to deal with the consequences of this debacle, but unless we are willing to take some very dangerous steps, there is little chance of that happening. The best first step though, is to force the Chinese into an embarrassing climbdown over the Norks, and while there is still some hope here, I mush share the opinion of those who believe that this is unlikely, especially given the position of the Son-In-Law-In-Chief (SILIC?) and his malign family.

    We shall see..

    • D4x

      SILOTUS and FDOTUS, until the guillotine appears.

      • f1b0nacc1

        SILINC and DINC?

        • D4x

          I’m done with acronyms.

  • It is actually very difficult to say whether he will be tougher on China than Obama was, to be honest. Obama was actually very firm with China for a Democratic President, and implemented a strong containment policy to counter its assertions in the Asia-Pacific.

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