Trump’s China pol­icy fol­lows prag­matic aims

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL -

Reuters re­ported Tues­day that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump could visit China in Novem­ber dur­ing a trip to Asia to at­tend a se­ries of sum­mits, cit­ing an anony­mous source. Chi­nese State Coun­cilor Yang Jiechi stated af­ter meet­ing with US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son on Tues­day that Pres­i­dent Trump will pay a state visit to China later this year. Ob­vi­ously, the two sides are work­ing to­gether to pre­pare for the visit.

China-US bi­lat­eral ties do not lack driv­ing force, but also con­front many prob­lems, in­clud­ing the North Korea nu­clear cri­sis and the trade re­la­tion­ship. As the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has not yet formed a clear China strat­egy, bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are shaped by spe­cific is­sues. Op­ti­mists and pes­simists about Sino-US re­la­tions can both find proof.

While Wash­ing­ton is di­rect in ex­press­ing its un­hap­pi­ness, the im­por­tance it at­taches to ties with China is also ob­vi­ous. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has no in­ten­tion to sub­vert its en­tire in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions; it is more will­ing to shape an en­vi­ron­ment that is more fa­vor­able to re­vive the Amer­i­can econ­omy.

Steve Ban­non, for­mer White House chief strate­gist, had been hawk­ish to­ward China. A few days ago, he com­pared China to the Germany of 1930 in an in­ter­view. But in a speech in Hong Kong on Tues­day, Ban­non spoke highly of China’s leader and eco­nomic gov­er­nance sys­tem. He even said China and the US can avoid a trade war.

Ban­non is re­al­is­tic about China’s strength, but also pur­sues “Amer­ica First” in dis­re­gard of the rules. Al­though no longer work­ing for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, his re­marks still re­flect the men­tal­ity of the Trump team.

Wash­ing­ton will con­tinue to pres­sure China dif­fer­ently from pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions on North Korea and trade is­sues, but it won’t risk breaking the China-US re­la­tion­ship en­tirely. It would like to see bi­lat­eral ties re­main largely sta­ble.

A White House of­fi­cial said Tues- day that if the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment doesn’t take fur­ther ac­tion to re­spond to the US’ re­quest to sanc­tion North Korea, the US will take uni­lat­eral ac­tion against Chi­nese com­pa­nies. As the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil just passed a new round of sanc­tions against Py­ongyang, the US is threat­en­ing uni­lat­eral sanc­tions, a tac­tic that the US in­creas­ingly adopts.

Wash­ing­ton may send such com­plex sig­nals again be­fore Trump’s China visit. It is how Wash­ing­ton ma­neu­vers when there is a ma­jor diplo­matic event be­tween China and the US, and Bei­jing is quite fa­mil­iar with the ap­proach. China needs to bal­ance be­tween main­tain­ing the big pic­ture and con­tend­ing on spe­cific is­sues when deal­ing with the US.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is show­ing more re­spect to China than to some of its al­lies, which is earned by China’s strength, re­straint and per­sis­tence on im­por­tant is­sues. China must stick to this path.

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