Tag Archives: Donald Trump

U.S.–China Week: Hillary Clinton for a strong U.S.–China relationship (2016.11.07)

Welcome to issue 76 of U.S.–China Week.

Since its inception, I have strictly limited the subject matter of U.S.–China Week to bilateral and regional affairs, not the domestic politics of China or the United States. Accordingly, coverage of the U.S. election has been occasional and restricted to the candidates’ attitudes and likely approaches to policy regarding China and the Asia-Pacific region. Undeniably, however, the U.S. election is the most important story in U.S.–China relations this week. It must be addressed.

Another guiding principle for U.S.–China Week has been to maintain analytical distance and apply equal-opportunity skepticism to all political sides, every government statement, and even the best reporting and analysis. So although no one who knows me would have trouble discerning my political leanings, in this context I find much to praise and much to criticize from both Democrats and Republicans. Today, however, it is impossible to honestly assess U.S.–China relations without remarking on the two drastically different paths bilateral ties might take depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s election.

For those favoring a U.S.–China relationship that better serves the citizens of both countries and people everywhere, Hillary Clinton is the only choice for president of the United States.

The case against Donald Trump is stark. Some U.S. observers have proposed that a Trump presidency could put the U.S. in a stronger negotiating position through aggressive trade tactics or his supposed deal-making acumen. But Trump’s vague plans for trade barriers are not only potentially impossible but also would be met with a strong and likely very damaging Chinese response. Both countries would suffer.

Some Chinese observers have suggested that Trump would be easier to deal with—because he is a Republican and Democrats have caused trouble over human rights; because he might be less motivated to engage in Asia-Pacific regional struggles; or because he would throw the United States and its alliances into crisis and allow China’s power to grow. In reality: Trump is not recognizable as a Republican of the model imagined by Chinese observers thinking of presidents since Nixon; a Trump administration’s military policies are entirely unpredictable, since he has no record and his team is a mystery; and a pull-back from U.S. alliance commitments would result in a far less stable region where Japan, South Korea, and others may seek stronger independent military capabilities. Any growth of relative Chinese capability could cause destabilizing insecurity in several neighboring states.

Many Trump supporters share a damn-the-torpedoes desire to shake up toxic patterns of political influence. While disgust with the establishment is widespread (and shared by many Democrats), a shake-up without a plan is especially dangerous in the U.S.–China context, where both countries depend on each other’s political and economic stability. The world’s stock markets have likely priced in the expected outcome of a Clinton victory, so some level of economic turmoil would begin immediately upon a Trump win. Those likely to serve in important foreign policy roles in a Hillary Clinton administration are known to their prospective Chinese counterparts and vice versa. Trump’s prospective team would not be known for weeks or months, and the United States would be an unpredictable actor at a time when China is undergoing its own quiet but tense political jockeying before the 19th Party Congress in 2017. A Donald Trump win would at minimum drastically raise uncertainty in the U.S.–China relationship and could easily throw it into economic and security crisis as a  consequence of that uncertainty. Neither country wins if Trump does.

The affirmative case for Hillary Clinton as steward of the evolving U.S.–China relationship is strong and under-appreciated. Yes, the comparison with Trump would make many candidates look good, but Clinton has concrete strengths from the perspective of both countries.

First, since the comparison with Trump is the choice voters are facing, Clinton would represent stability versus Trump’s uncertainty—a real virtue at a time when the leaderships of the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand are producing uncertainty and China’s own leadership is evolving. A Clinton administration would be well positioned to build on the effective elements of Obama-era Asia policy while revising those that are not as successful.

Second, U.S.–China relations specialists in both countries have long emphasized the importance of establishing high-level contacts and keeping presidential attention on China and East Asia. While the relationship is too complex for something on the model of the Kissinger-Zhou talks, Clinton would come to power with exceptionally strong and recent experience working with top Chinese leaders and with no learning curve on the bilateral and regional issues of the day.

Third, Clinton has a reputation in the U.S.–China context for strongly representing U.S. interests and speaking out against domestic and international Chinese actions viewed as objectionable in the United States. Still, in her time as secretary of state she did not let friction preclude cooperation: With Clinton at the helm on the U.S. side, the two governments found a way to save a substantively and symbolically important U.S.–China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting amidst a diplomatic crisis over the flight of the rights advocate Chen Guangcheng.

This third virtue may not seem a benefit to China, but it is. Many in China dislike Clinton and, for instance, blame her for raising tensions in the South China Sea. It is in this context that some Chinese strategic thinkers believe a Trump administration would be easier for China to deal with. In reality, however, Clinton’s association with standing up to Beijing gives her legitimacy and room for maneuver with China. It would be hard to charge Clinton with coddling or favoring China’s government. She is therefore positioned to approach relations with China from a position of strength and pragmatism. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s important cooperation with China on climate change and is the best prepared of any candidate this cycle to seek common ground with China on difficult, pressing challenges such as the one presented by North Korea.

Even if Clinton is not a favorite in Zhongnanhai, Chinese officials know they would have no choice but to take her seriously. With both luck and concerted effort by a Clinton administration and Chinese officials, major breakthroughs could be possible. We just might find ourselves looking back and saying, “Only Hillary could go to China.”

No candidate is perfect, and this is as true for Clinton as anyone. Some of her strengths come with challenges. At the most basic level, she and her team would have to balance continuity against policy innovation and the courage to revise what hasn’t worked as hoped. Even more fundamentally, any incoming president in January 2017 will inherit a deeply divided and dysfunctional U.S. political system that will be reflected in international affairs. The damage to U.S. foreign policy done by the 2016 campaign can be limited dramatically by a Clinton win, but some damage will remain.

As with any administration, a Clinton administration would make choices with respect to China that deserve scrutiny and skepticism. On U.S.–China relations, however, Hillary Clinton is not only the best choice U.S. voters have—she is also well positioned to move beyond stale patterns in bilateral ties and to lead the U.S. government in exploring new possibilities and adapting to new challenges.

U.S.–China Week will return to regular programming next week.

ABOUT U.S.–CHINA WEEK

U.S.–China Week is a weekly news and analysis brief that covers important developments in U.S.–China relations and features especially insightful or influential new policy analysis.

Graham Webster is a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.–China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues. His website is gwbstr.com.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).

Subscription to U.S.–China Week by clicking here or e-mailing me is free and open to all, and an archive of past editions appears at my long-running website on East Asia and the United States, Transpacifica.

Contact: Follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Send e-mail to [email protected].

U.S.–China Week: Chinese money in Hollywood, polling China on the U.S., adjusting to Duterte’s Philippines (2016.10.10)

Welcome to issue 72 of U.S.–China Week. As always: Please encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe to U.S.–China Week. Here is the web version of this issue, ideal for sharing on social media. You can also find U.S.–China Week on Mediumand on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. And please send your comments, quibbles, and suggestions to [email protected]tr.com.

INVESTMENT
U.S. agency to study adjusting foreign investment reviews as commission recommends reciprocity for media investment

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China issued its annual report, which among other things recommended that “Congress consider legislation to require that market access for Chinese investors in U.S. news, media, and entertainment industries be conditioned on a reciprocal basis.” The Government Accountability Office will reportedly review the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) system that examines foreign investments for national security concerns at the request of members of Congress. Meanwhile, in a LAT op-ed, the Wilson Center’s Robert Daly backs Congressional calls to scrutinize Chinese government influence over the U.S. entertainment industry, saying “Hollywood is allowing China to determine which movies get made.” Daly concludes, “The film industry needs to prove it is protecting creative freedom in the face of Chinese pressures and temptations, before the invitations arrive from Capitol Hill.” (News emerged that UBS “walked away from a $4.4bn deal to take a Dalian Wanda unit into private ownership…after it became uncomfortable with the structure of the transaction,” FT reported. Wanda’s investments, including its recently reported talks to acquire Dick Clark Productions, are a frequent cause of concern for some in the United States.) / WSJ reported on the gradual acceptance of the Chinese-made Buick Envision SUV in the U.S. market. / And Brookings’ David Dollar has a good brief on the future of U.S.–China trade ties. Among other things, Dollar writes, “The next administration should consider legislation that restricts the ability of foreign state enterprises to invest in the United States, especially through mergers and acquisitions.” Doing so, Dollar writes, could encourage China to reach an investment agreement with the United States. / Finally, U.S. Chamber China chief Jeremie Waterman reportedly cautioned the Obama administration to focus on substance in bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations, not on an effort to conclude an agreement before the inauguration.

ANALYSIS: Will a surge in U.S. Congressional and media scrutiny of Chinese investments in the United States result in a less open environment for Chinese money? Of course, much will depend on the outcome of the election, both for the White House and Congress. Regardless, what stands out here is not the skepticism of Chinese influence; it’s the fact that the skepticism is not well balanced by voices praising positive elements of U.S.–China economic interdependence. Perhaps any lobbying against increased restrictions is staying under the radar to avoid public association with “China’s rising threat,” as a Politico headline put it in the Hollywood context. Daly’s op-ed mentioned above has a strange passage, noting that “government attention to these issues raises the specter of federal regulation of culture—a brand of McCarthyism that would be worse than the problem it seeks to solve—but the lawmakers’ warnings [about Chinese investments in the U.S. film industry] are on target.” If we’re really talking about a new “brand of McCarthyism,” shouldn’t the concern be as much about that as it is about Chinese market power shaping Hollywood plots? I don’t think we’re anywhere near McCarthyism, and there are plenty of valid U.S. national security concerns involving China, but I do detect a shift toward one-sided debate—perhaps in both countries—that could get us all into a lot of trouble.

PUBLIC OPINION
Chinese views on U.S. before heat of election appear moderate; Last spring, more confidence in Clinton than Trump

A Pew survey conducted in April and May indicated a rise in favorable views of the United States among Chinese, with 50% reporting a very or somewhat favorable view, compared with 44% in 2015 and 50% in 2014. Slightly more Chinese respondents reported believing that, compared to 10 years ago, the United States was playing a less important role (39%) not a more important role (35%) as a world leader. That compares with 75% of Chinese respondents who said China was playing a more important role. The survey indicated that Chinese respondents had more confidence in Hillary Clinton “to do the right thing regarding world affairs” than they did in Donald Trump (Clinton: 37% said a lot or some confidence, versus 35% saying not too much or none at all; Trump: 22% and 40%). With a margin of error of 3.7% and without more detailed documentation, take these numbers with a grain of salt. / A ChinaFile Conversation on Chinese views of the U.S. election (with the benefit of more recent data!) features Caixin’s Qiaoyi Zhuang, Col. Liu Mingfu, Helen Gao (now at China Policy), and Fudan’s Shen Dingli. / Meanwhile, the fashion site Racked published a feature on tracking down the Chinese factories in Shengzhou, Zhejiang, that manufactured Trump ties among many others, reporting among other things that the workers were paid by piece, not by the hour, some earning as little as 2,000rmb/mo.

ANALYSIS: The Pew survey report is worth a read on a number of issues beyond the U.S.–China beat. Looking at the fluctuations over a decade of Chinese respondents’ favorable/unfavorable views of the United States, though, it’s tough to read much into these results. Assuming the integrity of the survey, the main feature of the data is a three-year rise in favorability toward the United States from 34% in 2007 to 58% in 2011, followed by a decline to around even ever since. In that same period of time, U.S. views of China have remained consistently negative (through latest reported data from last year). Unfortunately, annual data points for just a decade are not granular enough to ask serious questions about what might be driving these shifts.

SOUTH CHINA SEA
More mixed signals from Philippines as foreign minister echoes Duterte’s skepticism of dependence on US

Reuters reports: “‘Breaking away from the shackling dependency of the Philippines to effectively address both internal and external security threats has become imperative in putting an end to our nation’s subservience to United States’ interests,’ [Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto] Yasay said in a Facebook post. … Yasay’s assessment of U.S. ties follows a diplomatic storm over [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte’s declarations over the past eight days that joint U.S.-Philippines military exercises would cease, a defense agreement would be reviewed and at an undisclosed time, he might ‘break up’ with the United States. … [Yasay added:] ‘Worse is that our only ally could not give us the assurance that in taking a hard line toward the enforcement of our sovereignty rights under international law, it will promptly come to our defense under our existing military treaty and agreements.’ Yasay’s tone contrasted sharply with that of Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who on Wednesday said Duterte may have been misinformed when he said U.S.-Philippine military exercises were of no benefit to his country.” But Nikkei reports: “‘We have informed our [U.S.] counterparts that there [would be] no joint patrols in the meantime,’ Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Friday.” Lorenzana was reportedly ordered to visit China and Russia to explore military procurement possibilities.

ANALYSIS: As the U.S. government prepares for a new administration, Duterte’s own new approach for the Philippines has made a reexamination of the U.S. approach in the South China Sea unavoidable. To take Duterte at his word (and that of Yasay above), he is not so reassured by the alliance with the United States that weathering broadly negative ties with China is a desirable path. Valid U.S. criticisms of the drug enforcement–related violence probably don’t increase the Philippine perception of support, but those remarks—which have led to headline-grabbing, profane anti-U.S. utterances—aren’t the only factor. China has, as far as the public knows, declined to aggressively test U.S. resolve on the validity of the UNCLOS tribunal’s decision, and the United States has apparently declined to engage in further “freedom of navigation” operations. U.S. neutrality on sovereignty claims meanwhile in practice means acquiescence to China’s control over Scarborough Shoal. Given that every government involved is first concerned with the home audience, what evidence should a Philippine leader show to indicate the U.S. alliance is alone sufficient to maintain national security? The U.S. and Philippine synchronicity over the arbitral proceedings fell apart with Duterte’s election, and the Philippine approach is evolving. Will the U.S. government adjust proactively, or are top officials waiting for conditions to steady first? Will a new U.S. administration pile on and escalate pressure on China in an attempt to reassure Philippine counterparts, or will they assess that, in the long term, the Philippines will need to reach some arrangement with China? And could the U.S. government live with a Philippine-Chinese compromise that does not put UNCLOS and “the rules based order” first?

#USChinaWeek1966
‘U.S. Declares Mrs. Chiang Is Visiting on Private Basis’

“WASHINGTON, Oct. 4[, 1966] (AP)—The State Department said today that MRS Chiang Kai-shek was in the United States on a private visit and had been here on that basis since her arrival last year. The commen by Robert J. McCloskey was propted by questions raised after Senator J. W. Fulbright, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, had said he would ask about the ‘precise status’ of the visit of the Chinese Nationalist President’s wife. An embassy aide said Mrs. Chiang was in new York and had no immediate comment to make to Mr. Fulbright’s charge that she was seeking to influence United States foreign policy in speeches against Communist China.”

(Source: The New York TimesThis entry is part of an ongoing feature of U.S.–China Week that follows U.S.–China relations as they developed in another era of change and uncertainty, 50 years ago.)

ABOUT U.S.–CHINA WEEK

U.S.–China Week is a weekly news and analysis brief that covers important developments in U.S.–China relations and features especially insightful or influential new policy analysis.

Graham Webster is a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.–China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues. His website is gwbstr.com.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).

Subscription to U.S.–China Week by clicking here or e-mailing me is free and open to all, and an archive of past editions appears at my long-running website on East Asia and the United States, Transpacifica.

Contact: Follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Send e-mail to [email protected].

U.S.–China Week: Li Keqiang meets Obama; South China Sea uncertainty (2016.09.26)

Welcome to issue 70 of U.S.–China Week.

A note to readers in China: In recent weeks, subscribers with NetEase/网易 e-mail addresses ending in 163.com and 126.com have had trouble receiving U.S.–China Week in their e-mail. I am exploring options to resolve this, but for now please consider subscribing with a different e-mail provider or check transpacifica.net for the latest issues. If anyone has any trouble receiving these messages, please do let me know.

As always: Please encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe to U.S.–China Week. Here is the web version of this issue, ideal for sharing on social media. You can also find U.S.–China Week on Medium and on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. And please send your comments, quibbles, and suggestions to[email protected].

SUMMIT CIRCUIT
Li Keqiang meets Obama alongside UN meetings, expresses optimism for bilateral ties, whoever wins election

“No matter who gets elected in the U.S. presidential election, I believe that China-U.S. ties will continue to grow steadily and in a positive direction,” Premier Li Keqiang told a New York audience. Li was in New York for the UN General Assembly meetings. In his UN speech, Li pushed a framework for “sustainable development.” Li also favored a global security concept featuring “dialogue instead of confrontation, and partnership instead of alliance” (“对话而不对抗、结伴而不结盟”). That phrase has been around at least since March 2015, but the context here caught my eye, because security architectures are on my mind since last week. / Li met with President Barack Obama, and the White House readout covered familiar points plus some not-always-present trade topics—”the importance of achieving progress in negotiation of a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty and of a World Trade Organization Environment Goods Agreement.” The People’s Daily/Xinhua readout gave a bit more, with Li calling trade the “ballast” and “propeller” of bilateral relations and reiterating Chinese opposition to deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.

ANALYSIS: With Obama’s visit to Hangzhou only recently concluded, the Li-Obama meeting appears to have been a largely ceremonial event, with no reports of breaking new ground. Li’s polite optimism about U.S.–China relations under the next U.S. president no doubt masks deep uncertainty about what Donald Trump would actually do, and much more certain wariness of a Hillary Clinton presidency. (Hints about Trump’s economic opinions, mentioning China liberally, are available in a new white paper by “senior policy advisers” to the campaign Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross.)

SOUTH CHINA SEA
Indonesia-U.S. joint patrols; Philippine position on U.S. partnership fluctuates as Duterte seeks ‘alliances’ elsewhere

U.S. and Indonesian forces plan to “carry out joint patrols around the outer maritime boundaries of Indonesian territorial waters,” Kyodo reported. Indonesian officials were also reportedly in talks with U.S. officials on potential support for upgrades to a South China Sea naval base. / Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly clarified that he never meant to tell U.S. soldiers to leave the Philippines, and that they are needed for the South China Sea. Duterte also reportedly complained of U.S. reluctance to sell the Philippines missiles to equip recently acquired fighter jets. U.S.–Philippine bilateral military drills were scheduled for October. And Duterte separately said he would visit Russia and China to seek ties beyond the United States: “I am ready to not really break (U.S.) ties but we will open alliances with China and… Medvedev, he is awaiting there for my visit,” Duterte said according to Reuters. / ANew York Times story reported that Scarborough Shoal was “China’s next big target for construction” but that Duterte’s positioning “has changed China’s calculation.” That story, though its macro narrative is thinly sourced, drew my attention to a July statement by top PLA Navy Adm. Wu Shengli to U.S. counterpart Adm. John Richardson that “South China Sea sovereignty rights” are a “Chinese core interest.”

ANALYSIS: The NYT story on China’s alleged change of plans regarding Scarborough is a good example of the perils of covering a lack of events. The crux of the story is the assumption by unspecified others that China had planned to build an outpost at Scarborough Shoal, plus the assertion that China has delayed those plans because of Duterte’s possible friendship. While there is plenty of good material in the story, it does not convincingly establish the Chinese plans, a change in those plans, or the reason for any change. Plans? No direct source is given for China’s alleged plans, but material suggesting they might exist includes “rumors” (one round of which were pretty well debunked) of dredgers in the area and speeches by the scholar Jin Canrong, a lively personality whose whose ties to leadership are unclear. Change of plans? If Jin was right in his speech referenced in the story, construction was planned for next year, thus the lack of activity so far is no evidence of a change in alleged plans. Cause of the alleged change? Jin is given as a source for the notion that, in paraphrase, “Duterte’s openness to talking with China, and his cantankerous attitude toward the Americans, would probably delay the construction plans.” Then again, if there was a change, perhaps it was tied to Obama’s reported warning to President Xi Jinping not to make moves that might engage U.S. treaty commitments to the Philippines—or to other factors entirely. I pick on this story not because it is uniquely problematic, but because the issues it covers are of great potential consequence and are so often discussed in over-certain terms both by “analysts” and by journalists. At minimum, I would strongly advocate for a dissenting voice in a story like this that depends essentially on a few experts’ guesses.

TRADE
Chinese aluminum hearing scheduled; China extends anti-dumping duties on U.S. chicken

The U.S. International Trade Commission will hear from Chinese industry officials this week in a investigation into aluminum pricing, Nikkei reports. “In response to pressure from U.S. aluminum producers who fear cut-rate Chinese exports, the U.S. International Trade Commission in April launched an investigation of competitive factors affecting aluminum production in major producing countries, including the U.S. and China,” according to Nikkei, which reports the investigation is not expected to conclude until mid-2017. / Reuters reports: “China’s commerce ministry said it will extend anti-dumping measures on imports of U.S. broiler chicken products for a further five years, effective from Sept 27. A suspension of the measures would potentially hurt Chinese firms, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website on Monday.” / The Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Sichuan government hosted bilateral meetings on state/province trade and technology cooperation.

#USChinaWeek1966
Ezra Vogel reviews French journalist’s China book, describes difficulty of China journalism in ’60s

Sept. 25, 1966: “Guillain paints the view from a distance, scarcely scratching the surface. In part, the responsibility for sticking to surfaces lies with Peking, which sees foreign journalists as a means of favorable publicity. Before 1949, when the Communists could not afford their Foreign Language Press, select sympathetic foreign journalists were invited and given a story which they happily published as a ‘scoop’ in the Western press. Today more foreign journalists are admitted, and since they are not necessarily friendly, Peking provides a guided tour of model communes, factories and cities. The leaders are still convinced that letting foreigners roam and mingle freely is not worth the risk of sabotage and the sowing of seeds of discontent. … In part, however, the responsibility lies with Western journalism. The U.S. Government has sizable numbers of Chinese-language officers well trained in Chinese culture, and the universities are now belatedly training scholars on Communist China. Virtually no Western reporters have comparable training…”

(Source: The New York TimesThis entry is part of an ongoing feature of U.S.–China Week that follows U.S.–China relations as they developed in another era of change and uncertainty, 50 years ago.)

ABOUT U.S.–CHINA WEEK

U.S.–China Week is a weekly news and analysis brief that covers important developments in U.S.–China relations and features especially insightful or influential new policy analysis.

Graham Webster is a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.–China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues. His website is gwbstr.com.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).

Subscription to U.S.–China Week by clicking here or e-mailing me is free and open to all, and an archive of past editions appears at my long-running website on East Asia and the United States, Transpacifica.

Contact: Follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. Send e-mail to [email protected].

U.S.–China Week: North Korea blame game featuring Ash Carter, MFA, Trump; Carter’s China visit in question (2016.09.12)

Welcome to issue 68 of U.S.–China Week. As always: Please encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe to U.S.–China Week. Here is the web version of this issue, ideal for sharing on social media. You can also find U.S.–China Week on Mediumand on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter at @gwbstr. And please send your comments, quibbles, and suggestions to [email protected].

NORTH KOREA
U.S. and Chinese officials engage in counterproductive blame game over North Korean nuclear test

After North Korea tested its fifth nuclear weapon, U.S. officials reiterated pressure on China to use what they perceive as its leverage over North Korea to stop the nuclear program. Though President Barack Obama’s statement did not mention China, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter did. “I’d single out China. It’s China’s responsibility,” Carter said according to The Wall Street Journal. “China shares important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it. It’s important that it use its location, its history and its influence to further the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and not the direction things have been going,” Carter said. / Chinese officials condemned the test, but a Foreign Ministry spokesperson also responded in kind to Carter’s remarks: “It is the U.S. who should reflect upon how the situation has become what it is today, and search for an effective solution. It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The U.S. should shoulder its due responsibilities.” / North Korea is also likely to be high on the agenda as Japan’s new defense minister visits Washington this week.

ANALYSIS: Carter’s statement and the Chinese response are both disappointing, because it is obvious that no one government has the capability to bend North Korean behavior to its will. Notwithstanding irate public statements, every official working on the North Korea challenge knows it cannot be met without compatible actions by both the United States and China. In public statements as in bilateral negotiations, U.S. officials need to realize China’s government perceives several kinds of threats from the Korean Peninsula, including both a nuclear North Korea and a disorderly collapse of the status quo—the latter of which could be triggered by drastic measures some U.S. analysts advocate. Chinese officials need to realize that the U.S. will take measures, such as deploying the THAAD missile defense system, to defend U.S. and allied interests at a time when the nuclear threat is increasingly salient. Both governments need to accept rather than deny these realities as a precondition for effective joint action on a dangerous evolving problem. Both governments could exert more pressure on North Korea, but neither will achieve its goals without cooperating.

CAMPAIGN 2016
Clinton campaign sees working with China on Korea; Trump sees China with ‘virtually total control over North Korea’

North Korea is certain to be a foreign policy challenge for the next U.S. president, and visions differ on how China fits into that challenge. Both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign issued statements on the test, with Clinton condemning the test and a Trump staffer condemning Clinton (but not, explicitly, the test). In a statement, Clinton said “China plays a critical role, too, and must meaningfully increase pressure on North Korea—and we must make sure they do.” In May Jake Sullivan, a top Clinton adviser,reportedly said North Korea “will have to be right at the top of the agenda for the next president to deal with” and added that “there is a possibility for the United States and China to cooperate on the North Korea issue effectively.” Clinton said at an event after the test the issue would be “on the top of [her] list in dealing with China.” Speaking shortly before the most recent test, Donald Trump was asked about his strategy on North Korea: “What I would do very simply is say, ‘China, this is your baby,'” Trump said. “‘This is your problem. You solve the problem.’ China can solve that problem. … China has virtually total control over North Korea. But they say they don’t because they want to tweak us.”

ANALYSIS: Clinton and her campaign have spoken repeatedly about the importance of confronting the realities of the Korean Peninsula early in the next president’s administration, and Clinton has floated the model of the Iran talks as a way to build a North Korea approach. I think my comment above should make clear my view of Trump’s “total control” hypothesis. It’s hard to believe it bears repeating that North Korea’s nuclear program is not a Chinese problem or a U.S. problem but a regional and global one. A successful resolution to these challenges is likely to require uncomfortable conversations between Chinese and U.S. officials about desirable end states for the Korean Peninsula. Clinton’s team seems ready to have those conversations; is the Chinese government?

MIL-MIL
China visit by SecDef Carter cancelled for second time this year, scholar says

Wu Zurong of the China Foundation for International Studies writes that an announced make-up visit by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to China is now unlikely to happen, because no mention of the plan appeared in the Chinese government’s lengthy “outcomes” document following the Obama-Xi meeting in Hangzhou. Carter had planned a visit to China earlier this year, but that was “postponed” in April in what some (including me) saw as a likely signal of disapproval of Chinese actions at the time. Carter said at the Shangri-La Dialogue he planned to visit China later in 2016, and Wu notes that the Chinese outcomes document from the Strategic and Economic Dialogue mentioned that visit. Without citing direct confirmation that the visit has been scrapped, Wu writes: “The difficulties surrounding a Carter visit to China are so huge that the two sides have for now agreed to give up on the visit, at least for the time being. … Most probably, Carter will be one of the very few U.S. defense secretaries who did not visit China during his tenure of office since U.S. President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972. It is truly regrettable for both China and the U.S.” / Meanwhile, in a contrasting commentary, retired Major General Yao Yunzhu writes of a positive “new normal” in bilateral military ties. Yao is one of the most prominent and respected figures in Track 2 and Track 1.5 bilateral dialogues.

ANALYSIS: Wu’s article does not on its own provide strong evidence that a China visit is really off the table for Carter, but his reading of the bilateral statements and possible inside information make it worth taking seriously. My own read of the diplomatic chatter about U.S.–China mil-mil relations is that the Obama era has been accompanied by a strong push for practical confidence building and crisis avoidance measures between the militaries, even as the two operate in proximity more frequently. A cancellation of the planned Carter visit would feed an emerging, less hopeful atmosphere in bilateral conversations in recent months.

#USChinaWeek1966 <— follow this hashtag on Twitter for more
‘U.S. Seen Yielding on 2 Chinas in U.N.: New Support for Peking in State Department Hinted’

“UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., Sept 10[, 1966]—The United States appears to be moving toward acceptance of a two-China policy in the United Nations. No decision has yet been reached by the Administration. But the emphasis placed on a variety of arguments for the step by responsible officials indicates that powerful support has been generated for it in the State Department despite the opposition of Secretary of State Dean Rusk. In essence, the policy would shift the emphasis in American diplomacy from keeping the Chinese Communists out of the world organizations to keeping the Chinese Nationalists in if Peking was admitted. … Peking and its Communist sponsors here have insisted in the past that the People’s Republic must be the only Chinese representative at the United Nations. American sources do not believe that an acceptance of the two-China policy would have any immediate effect on Peking’s insistence on this condition nor on the Communists’ hostility toward the United States. They pin their faith on the theory that with the passage of time the policy will be accepted by both the Nationalist and Communist governments as perhaps the only way out of the present impasse.”

(Source: The New York TimesThis entry is part of an ongoing feature of U.S.–China Week that follows U.S.–China relations as they developed in another era of change and uncertainty, 50 years ago.)

ABOUT U.S.–CHINA WEEK

U.S.–China Week is a weekly news and analysis brief that covers important developments in U.S.–China relations and features especially insightful or influential new policy analysis.

Graham Webster is a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.–China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues. His website is gwbstr.com.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are my own (and I reserve the right to change my mind).

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8 GOP Asia advisers release open letter opposing Trump, say will vote for Clinton

This open letter regarding Donald Trump and U.S. policy toward Asia appeared at Foreign Policy and is reproduced here for reference.

Preserving U.S. Credibility in Asia: An Open Letter

As foreign and security policy appointees in previous Republican administrations, we will reluctantly (for some) but unavoidably be voting for the Democratic party’s presidential candidate this November. In doing so, we will join former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and other mentors who have already made the same decision.

Most criticism of current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump focuses on his erratic behavior, bizarre conspiracy theories, vulgar and inappropriate words, and appeal to baser instincts and atavistic nationalism. He dismisses whole groups of people, including adherents to a world religion.

Meanwhile, policy-focused dissent covers the field, from the Mexican border wall fantasies to his ill-informed (if not willfully ignorant) views about allies, Russia, torture, the origins of the Islamic State, and nuclear weapons.

We share these and other misgivings, but our common and primary reason for deciding to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton arises from fears that Trump’s combative, ignorant views can (and will, if he’s elected) inflict great damage on our country’s global position and on its economy.

America faces relentless economic and geostrategic competition from China and Russia, and new variants of global jihadi terrorism. It’s absolutely the wrong time to elect an unstable, ill-prepared amateur with no vision or foresight to meet the manifold challenges of the 21st century.

In Europe, we need a president who will strengthen trans-Atlantic relations and stand up to Russia. While Russian President Vladimir Putin only respects strength, we also need shrewd policies to thwart the insidious infiltration of propaganda and corruption.

In the Middle East, also, we need equally smart statecraft — to prevent sectarian conflict from engendering wider hostilities while doubling down to defeat the Islamic State and the wider jihadist threat in whatever forms it assumes.

Looking forward, however, we especially fear a Trump presidency’s impact on America’s future in Asia, where China’s influence in the region, now the global economy’s center of gravity, grows apace with the country’s power. Beijing’s worldview offers less liberty and more state and military control — attitudes which, coupled to an assertive chauvinism, directly challenges an open, rules-based order.

Looking at all his announced intentions, Trump cannot provide leadership to adapt global and regional economic institutions to the new Asian realities. Doing this means weaving the United States more tightly into Asia’s economic tapestry and security arrangements, not the opposite.

These trends explain why, back in 2007, President George W. Bush’s administration began reemphasizing Asia, setting out an American-led path for the region’s future.

The Obama administration persisted with, and expanded, this important policy pivot. Indeed, Clinton played a vital part in this U.S. rebalancing policy in Asia after 2009, a move which elicited sustained, genuine bipartisanship — an approach which prevailed during her tenure as secretary of state, despite occasional disagreement over tactical choices.

By contrast, the current Republican presidential candidate offers only bluster or preposterous panaceas for Asia — ideas which, if they ever find their way into policy, will wreck our country’s credibility, economy, and leadership in very short order.

Should Trump become president and put his nostrums into practice, Asia’s response will be prompt and epochal. In their varying ways, Asia’s big or small countries will be forced to tilt towards America’s challengers, especially China. Some of them may move quickly to seek security under a new proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In short, if the Trump brand — of which this candidate is so proud — becomes America’s brand, we can expect ruinous marginalization in Asia and unwanted compliance with rules which the Chinese and other challengers set.

Trump speaks of a greater America, a more competitive America, and a stronger America, but his election risks the exact opposite, especially in Asia. His scorn for free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) fires up the campaign crowds but risks a catastrophic loss of prestige and leadership. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on a recent visit to the United States, put it succinctly: “For America’s friends and partners, ratifying the TPP is a litmus test of credibility and seriousness of purpose.”

While it’s tempting to join the anti-free traders, we would hope that Clinton reconsiders her current position on the TPP. Failure to approve it would cede to China the role of defining regional trade rules, and would be a body blow to U.S. standing and the U.S. economy.

We accept legitimate anxieties about the TPP but believe that these would be best met by working with Congress and bilaterally with other treaty partners. Trade forms a small but vital part of preparing a 21st century workforce in a world transformed by technological change, from robotics and artificial intelligence to 3D printing and self-driving cars. We cannot command the incoming tide to recede. We’re stuck with the world in which we dwell.

Our relations with nations across the Indo-Pacific region will go a long way toward determining the future prosperity and security of the United States. Like it or not, an internationalist foreign policy is a necessity, not an option. It’s not a divide between globalism and nationalism, as Trump would have us believe, but a strategic question: How does America navigate the current century’s competitive environment?

Trump would take us on a race to the bottom in a fragmenting world order; Clinton is best positioned seek both renewed prosperity and better security. For these reasons, we will work towards her election in November as our next president.

The Honorable Dr. Patrick M. Cronin
Former Assistant Administrator, Policy and Program Coordination, U.S. Agency for International Development

James Clad
Former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Robert Manning
Former senior counselor, Department of State and member, policy planning staff

Charles W. Dunne
Former U.S. Foreign Service officer and former foreign policy adviser to the director for strategic plans and policy at the Joint Staff

Dr. Michael J. Green
Former special assistant to the president and senior director for Asia, National Security Council

The Honorable Frank L. Lavin
Former under secretary of commerce for international trade and former U.S. ambassador to Singapore

Anja Manuel
Former special assistant to under-secretary for political affairs, U.S. Department of State

Peter Watson
Former chairman, U.S. International Trade Commission; former chairman, president, and CEO, U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and former director of Asian affairs, National Security Council