US president-elect Donald Trump
threw a tantrum against China Sunday night. He said on Twitter, "Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!"
It is uncertain whether Trump went up against China because he had been irritated by some chiding comments on his receiving a phone call from Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, or this was a shrewd step in a well-considered China policy. Anyhow, his response is unexpected.
In his presidential campaign, Trump never mentioned the Taiwan question, and also ducked the issue of the South China Sea. However, he stirred up troubles against China before he is sworn in, which contradicts his isolationism. Considering there are many hawkish figures on his team and Trump is unpredictable, it remains uncertain if someone egged him on to challenge China.
No matter what the reasons are behind Trump's outrageous remarks, it appears inevitable that Sino-US ties will witness more troubles in his early time in the White House than any other predecessor. We must be fully prepared, both mentally and physically, for this scenario.
We should stand firm and remain composed. Trump can make a lot of noise but that does not exempt him from the rules of the major power game. He doesn't have sufficient resources to deal with China wantonly, the second largest economy, the biggest trading country and a nuclear power. His many words will not become deeds. What's more, except for some political radicals, most US people won't want to take the risk of sinking into a major-power conflict.
We should also adapt ourselves to new changes, including new dynamics in the Sino-US relations. We should take initiative to deal with new challenges, and pay more attention to the bottom line of the Sino-US relationship, and how to achieve a strategic balance between both countries through contention.
Trump's reckless remarks against a major power show his lack of experience in diplomacy. He may have overestimated the power of the US. He may have already been obsessed with the power he is about to have a grip on, and wishes the whole world should follow his lead. He may also believe that if China, the biggest power after the US, is awed by Washington, it will solve all other problems.
No matter what Trump thinks, China must be determined to upset his unreasonable requests at his early time in office, and fight back if his moves harm China's interests, regardless of the consequences to the dynamics of the Sino-US relationship. If China behaves soft-heartedly for the greater good of the bilateral ties, it will only embolden Trump to be more aggressive.
Trump's China-bashing tweet is just a cover for his real intent, which is to treat China as a fat lamb and cut a piece of meat off it. Trump wants to revive US economy, but he knows that his country is not as competitive as it used to be. He is trying to pillage other countries for the prosperity of the US. Trump sems to be wanting to make the US a new economic empire in the 21st century under his leadership, which is about to smash current world economic order. However, he doesn't know that the US is the biggest beneficiary from the current world order, and he wants to reshape the world order into a winner-takes-all one.
China should brace itself for the possible fluctuations of the Sino-US relationship after Trump is sworn in. We must confront Trump's provocations head-on, and make sure he won't take advantage of China at the beginning of his tenure. This initial period will set the foundation for the Sino-US relationship in the next four years. Newspaper headline: Trump in no position to be rash with China