De­spite ten­sion, US, China could set ‘rules of the road’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

DE­SPITE spec­u­la­tion the US-China re­la­tion­ship could fall into un­cer­tain­ties and in­sta­bil­ity un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, ex­perts say the two pow­ers could avoid the case by hold­ing an early di­a­logue to es­tab­lish “rules of the road”.

As newly-in­au­gu­rated US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is poised to take a tougher stance to­ward China on a range of is­sues, the ex­perts hope the two coun­tries could find a new “modus vivendi” through talks in a one-or-two-year times­pan.

On his year-long cam­paign trail, Trump kept ham­mer­ing China for the US trade deficit and losses of jobs. He has threat­ened to des­ig­nate China as a “cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor” and im­pose high tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods, re­gard­less of the po­ten­tial dam­age to both sides, as the two economies are deeply in­ter­twined.

Trump even claimed that ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the one-China pol­icy that has al­ways been up­held by his pre­de­ces­sors, is ne­go­tiable.

Bon­nie Glaser, a si­nol­o­gist at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, told Xin­hua she ex­pects “a lot of fric­tion” in the US-China re­la­tion­ship in the first year of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Glaser said the Tai­wan is­sue could have the most harm­ful im­pact on the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship if the new US gov­ern­ment has a fun­da­men­tal pol­icy shift, as Bei­jing con­sid­ers the one-China pol­icy as the po­lit­i­cal foun­da­tion of the re­la­tion­ship.

Un­der the three joint com­mu­niques gov­ern­ing China-US ties, the US is obliged to abide by the one-China pol­icy, which recog­nises that Tai­wan is part of China and Bei­jing is the sole le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of China.

Michael O’Han­lon, a se­nior fel­low of the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, told Xin­hua that ten­sions in US-China ties are ex­pected un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, cit­ing tough com­ments made by Rex Tiller­son, Trump’s nom­i­nee for sec­re­tary of state, at a re­cent Se­nate hear­ing.

Tiller­son de­manded a halt to China’s con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in the South China Sea wa­ters while vow­ing to deny China’s ac­cess to the is­lands, which China re­gards as in­te­gral parts of its ter­ri­tory.

The is­sues of deal­ing with North Korea’s nu­clear weapons pro­gramme and cy­ber se­cu­rity could also test the US-China re­la­tion­ship, Dan Ma­haf­fee, vice-pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of pol­icy of the Cen­ter for the Study of the Pres­i­dency and Congress, said.

But ex­perts down­played the pos­si­bil­ity the two coun­tries are headed for mil­i­tary con­flict. Xin­hua

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