The Trump administration has pivoted from the US’s policy of strategic ambiguity toward China, to open rivalry over the last few weeks.
And in that time it has announced a slew of aggressive policies toward China with little explanation of what it plans to do in the event that China retaliates.
If that sounds intense, that’s because it is. We’ve gone from zero to Mad Max with China, and officials in Beijing know it’s going to stay this wild all the way leading up to the November election.
This is an environment where mistakes, misunderstandings, and accidents can make a terrible impact on relations between the US and China, and the world.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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One month President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, publishes a White House memoir exposing him as weak on China. The next, Trump is throwing a veritable kitchen sink of aggressive policies at Beijing in an effort to look tough ahead of the November election.
If that kind of belligerent 180 between two world powers seems dangerous to you, that’s because it is. Until (and if) Trump leaves office in January, relations between the US and China will be in free fall.
Up until now Trump has avoided taking a tough stance on China because he’s been obsessed with securing a trade deal that would impress his base and supposedly prove how much of a “dealmaker” he is. But last week in one of his coronavirus press conferences, Trump told reporters that he was setting the deal aside, opening the door to a more aggressive stance.
This abandonment of a further trade deal coincides with a flurry of activity on the China policy front over the last few weeks. We’ve gone from zero to Mad Max.
Everyone is watching the clock
Here’s just a smattering of what the Trump administration has done to pivot direction on China over the past few weeks:
Trump is set to sign an order demanding that China based ByteDance sell its US operations of popular app TikTok and said Friday he plans to ban TikTok in the US.
The US shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston.
The US placed sanctions on Chinese officials involved with human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
The White House is considering banning Communist Party members (roughly 90 million people) from the US.
The State Department made noise about China’s “unlawful” buildup of military bases in the South China Sea.
The US retaliated against China for a crackdown on US journalists with a crackdown on Chinese journalists in the US.
Attorney General Barr made a speech accusing tech giants of being too cozy with China.
And finally last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a speech at the Nixon Library, replete with historical inaccuracies and hyperbole about the need for the US to turn its back on China and form a new world order of like-minded countries. He said that …read more
Source:: Business Insider