Taipei plays role in Sino-US ties
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2016.12.21

Regarding the future of Sino-US relations, let us refer to two passages from The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury, an American China expert: “On the right are US defense hawks, as well as trade protectionists such as [US president-elect] Donald Trump. These are the people who are to be ‘frozen out’ by the Chinese government and marginalized wherever possible,” and “It has long been known among China scholars that the people most trusted to report on China are those academics, journalists and writers who have been denied visas into the country.”

Trump and his national security team belong to this group.

The main focus of Trump’s attacks on China is on economic issues and these could end up touching on military issues. China and its supporters have created an image of Trump as a “businessman,” and Taiwan might become a bargaining chip. This is indeed precisely what China has done. According to a Beijing source, before the telephone call between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) suggested to the US that China would be willing to trade North Korea for Taiwan, but the offer was unambiguously turned down.

The question is if Beijing will follow up on this suggestion by using economic benefits as bait. This is a possibility, but it would be difficult for Trump to accept them, as all of China’s promises have turned out to be lies — for example, the promises of dialogue: human rights dialogue, trade dialogue and military dialogue. What did the US eventually gain from them? Infringement of intellectual property rights and manipulation of exchange rates that caused the US astronomical losses.

However, Beijing also shamelessly demands that the global community recognize its status as a fully fledged market economy: A pirate disguised as a philanthropist to make it easier to loot, cheat and deceive.

If a Sino-US trade war breaks out, there would certainly be losses on both sides. However, the US economy is much stronger than China’s and the US is an irreplaceable market for China. Only by putting pressure on its economy can China be forced to carry out genuine liberalization reforms, otherwise there would be a huge turmoil.

The US is not unaware that it is being cheated, but its bureaucracy is not willing to turn hostile toward China.

However, Trump understands that taking a hard line approach is the only way to force China to fall in line.

Beijing also knows that Trump is about to put his words into action, but it is not about to give in to the rules that Trump is laying down, because China’s economy is slowing down, and Chinese and foreign funds are flowing out of the nation. Examples of this are the fabrication that the Chinese yuan will not be devalued and falsifying data to calm foreign investors and Chinese.

As China will not be able to win a trade war, it will only be able to appeal to force. However, because China’s military equipment is not equal to the US’ it will have to resort to intimidation. For example, China’s military exercises in the West Pacific and the reports in pro-Beijing media in Taiwan and Hong Kong on China’s latest armaments serve this purpose. This is China’s strategy to deter the US and delay the outbreak of war, as it tries to earn itself more time to steal US military technology to be able to catch up.

The intense coverage of China’s J-20 fifth-generation fighter jet in pro-Beijing media is yet another example serving the same purpose. At Airshow China 2016, which was held in Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong Province early last month, people were not allowed to take a close look at the aircraft, and its flight performance revealed nothing that other aircraft cannot do and failed to show off the functionality that Beijing had boasted about: The paper tiger finally revealed itself.

China’s military has been making a big fuss on Phoenix Satellite TV about the inevitability of war in the South China Sea before the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress next year.

If China wants to pick a fight, the most vulnerable time for the US would be during the White House handover; once this sensitive time has passed, China will once again turn into a paper tiger.

The future of Sino-US relations lies in Trump’s hands; Taiwan plays a necessary strategic supporting role and it must act carefully and with self-discipline.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Lin Lee-kai


    LingFengComment 發表在 痞客邦 留言(0) 人氣()