Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 8:27 AM

China, Next Stop on Trump’s Traveling Circus through Far East

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

President Trump begins his state visit to China today. He will pay lip service to the threat of trade war with China, but the threat of nuclear war with North Korea will dominate all talks.

Except that anyone who knows anything about the nature of this threat knows that these talks will amount to much ado about nothing. The only reason North Korea has nuclear weapons is that it furthers China’s geo-strategic interest. To understand the Chinese checkers-like moves afoot, just think how improbable it would be for Mexico to do the same, namely to develop nuclear weapons and continually threaten to annihilate China without the consent, if not the cooperation, of the United States.

Frankly, it speaks volumes about China’s perfidy that it sees politically redeeming value in having North Korea as a menacing nuclear power. As this country’s indispensable lifeline (i.e., its primary supplier of food and energy), China clearly feels immune to its threats, which have bedeviled China’s regional adversaries, including the United States, for decades.

Moreover, while those adversaries have been wasting time and resources contending with those threats, China has been busy executing its plan to dethrone the United States as the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

I’m on record telegraphing these moves in commentaries like “America’s Trump vs. North Korea’s Jong-un: the Ultimate Reality-TV Show,” August 9, 2017, “‘Leading from Behind’: Trump Depending on China to Protect US from North Korea,” April 21, 2017, and “Trump at UN General Assembly like Obama at KKK Rally,” September 18, 2017, which includes this overview:

Thanks to leaks from Trump’s White House, the entire world now knows Obama warned him that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a clear and present danger, which the United States must deal with as a matter of life and death. Yet the first thing Trump did as president was to make a public show of begging, brown-nosing, and then badgering China to protect the United States from North Korea. …

But … Chinese President Xi Jinping was playing him for a fool with empty promises to keep Jong-un in check. Which, of course, was easy to do because this US president is as susceptible to idle flattery as an ugly teenage girl. Xi was the first foreign leader to exploit that insecurity. Others have been queuing up ever since to do the same.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Because here is how no less an authority than the Los Angeles Times previewed this state visit yesterday:

Expect the good times to continue when Xi figuratively rolls out an ultra-wide red carpet to host Trump in Beijing — a ‘state visit-plus’ in the words of the Chinese ambassador to the United States.

The Chinese, much like the Japanese and South Koreans on the first two stops of Trump’s five-nation Asia tour, believe the gilded treatment is the best way to play to Trump’s ego and disarm him, and thereby blunt his demands that China open up its economy and take a harder tack against North Korea, according to experts and former government officials.

Xi can be forgiven for feeling even more emboldened to play Trump like a chump given this:

Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after a new body of political thought carrying his name was added to the Communist party’s constitution.

The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing – the 19th party congress – at which Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a ‘new era’ of international power and influence.

‘The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,’ a party resolution stated.

(London Guardian, October 24, 2017)

Alas, Xi has in Trump a willing dupe who would happily cede America’s global leadership to China only to have his fringe base in the Republican Party consecrate him in similar fashion.

Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017

But China’s moves are not going unnoticed, and, despite Trump, I predict it will not go unchecked.

The US military officials in the region warn that China’s ultimate goal is to become dominant by slowly making changes to the international order. China will use the laws it likes, ignore the ones it doesn’t and eventually other nations will have to adapt, thereby re-setting the rules in China’s favor.

‘China is on a path to win without a fight,’ one official said.

(NBC News, November 1, 2017)

Again, Xi’s is presiding over a China that is slowly but surely eclipsing the United States. The following puts this supplanting eclipse into context:

Nixon landing in China in 1972 was like Columbus landing in The Bahamas in 1492; whereas Trump landing in China in 2017 is like Churchill landing in Washington in 1942.

In other words, no matter Trump’s begging and/or badgering, China will deal with North Korea on its own terms. Unfortunately, this might mean waiting until war breaks out between North Korea and the United States before China plays its hand.

But, for now, like the king did for his state visit to Saudi Arabia, Xi will make sure Trump feels feted like the most important man to ever set foot in China. Because all leaders now know that, despite his “America First” rhetoric, that’s all that really matters to Trump.

More to the point, Trump made quite a show, during his address to the South Korean National Assembly yesterday, of demanding that China cut diplomatic ties with and economic supplies to North Korea. But Xi knows from experience that it only takes a little flattery to get him to forget these demands. And Trump expecting Russia to help the United States with North Korea is even more foolhardy than Netanyahu expecting Iran to help Israel with the Palestinians.

Of course, North Korea will just dismiss him as certifiably insane for demanding it unilaterally disarm. (Or what, face more of his bluster about raining down fire and fury?)

That said, I feel obliged to reiterate this warning from “World Beware, China Calling In (Loan-Sharking) Debts,” February 3, 2010.

This episode should serve as a warning to all countries around the world that are not just lapping up China’s largesse, but heralding it as a more worthy superpower than the United States. After all, China is spitting imperious and vindictive fire at the rich and mighty United States over a relatively insignificant matter like meeting with the Dalai Lama. So just imagine what it would do to a poor and weak country in a conflict over a truly significant matter.

Apropos of that, there’s this curious thing, which all non-white world leaders, especially those throughout Africa and the Caribbean, might want to beware of:

Obama always spoke of China with respect. Yet when he hosted Obama, Xi showed Obama unprecedented disrespect.

Knowing Trump, he probably reminded Xi of this as they had a laugh at Obama’s expense:

Donald Trump said Monday that he would have left the G-20 summit in China over a logistical flap that left President Obama disembarking Air Force One onto a plain metal staircase.

‘They have pictures of other leaders who are … coming down with a beautiful red carpet. … It’s a sign of such disrespect,’ [Trump said].

(Washington Post, September 5, 2016)

By instructive contrast, Trump always spoke of China with disrespect. Yet Xi is showing Trump unprecedented respect.

Perhaps Xi is just performing a Chinese version of the parable of the prodigal son. But it’s one of those things that make black people go, hmmm.

Related commentaries:
Trump vs. Jung-un
Leading from behind
General Assembly
Hong Kong
World beware

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