China Hawks Benefit From Trump Contradictions

China’s greatest fear is that Trump will encourage, if not support, moves toward Taiwan’s independence. This potentially threatens the geopolitical integrity of the country, as it could strengthen similar movements in other separatist regions, such as Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Already on alert after Trump’s unprecedented phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Beijing warned against allowing Tsai to stop over in the United States this month during an international trip. More threateningly, the government has stated that any attempt by Trump to change the status quo over Taiwan would cross a “red line” and incur “revenge.” A meeting in the flesh between Trump and Tsai would cause the most serious crisis in U.S.-China relations since normalization in 1979.

North Korea could also become an arena where China tests the new president. Trump recently tweeted that Beijing has done nothing to help denuclearize Pyongyang while “taking out massive amounts of money [and] wealth” from the United States. Years of failed diplomacy with North Korea have dampened any hope for new talks, but Beijing could respond to Trump’s accusation by increasing economic aid to Kim Jong Un, dropping support for recent U.N. sanctions, and ending any attempt at or, in the view of some, pretense of restraining Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. With Pyongyang about to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile that can potentially reach U.S. territory, any such Chinese assistance would alarm America’s national security establishment and also put South Korea and Japan, two of Washington’s closest allies in the region, further on edge.

In addition, Trump should expect China to target U.S. allies more aggressively. In recent weeks, China has sent bombers around Taiwan and fighter jets near Japanese and South Korean airspace, as well as very publicly sailed its sole aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait and past Japanese waters. This month, China reduced the number of charter flights from South Korea in response to Seoul’s decision last year to host a new American anti-ballistic missile system and is reported to be working with Russia on ways to defeat the defensive weapon. Moreover, Australia has decided against undertaking freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, and the Philippines’s shift to China under President Rodrigo Duterte is well underway. And Beijing could further rattle Japanese nerves by increasing its military activities near the contested Senkaku Islands — also known as the Diaoyu — in the East China Sea.

More at Source: China won’t run from a fight with Trump – AEI

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