So much headache this week. I think I'm going to invest all my retirement funds in tranquilizers, since everyone in DC must be taking them by the handful now...
Yeah, hopefully Trump will start trolling on another topic, so I don't have to write any more posts like this and can go back to writing on domestic events.
Wilfred Chan, whose stuff is excellent, observed what I have been saying publicly and privately in a Tweet:
Suggestion: whenever you feel rising panic about a China thing, look to see how Taiwanese people are reacting. They've dealt with it decadesWatching these panics happen periodically is very instructive in maintaining that Zen-like calm in the face of hyperventilation in the Commentariat. I also recommend dogs, whiskey, and bicycling...
...my very sharp man Solidarity, now studying in the US and new proud father (congrats!) also tweetly observed:
If I were Zhongnanhai I'd be wondering how else to take advantage of Western media liking me better than they do the incoming US presidentI made a mistake, actually. When I pointed out that the media was teaching China what topics were safe for it to be tough on, I forgot that it was also teaching our future President what topics were sensitive enough for successful trolling.
As for Trump's most recent remarks, J Michael Cole said it in one China, Many Trumps:
But one thing is certain: the likelihood that the United States will scuttle “one China” is next to nil, as such a policy goes against even what the more creative (and pro-Taiwan) of Trump’s advisers on Taiwan and China, people like John Bolton, have argued over the years. In Bolton’s case, his argument has been that dual recognition might be possible, albeit under a “one China” framework. The logic behind this is that there is nothing in the United States’ “one China” policy that prevents dual recognition. (Whether such an argument would be palatable to Beijing or Taipei is a different question altogether.)This is exactly right: not much will change because Trump is surrounded by people who will keep policies that help Taiwan in place and expand around the edges where they can. Whenever there is policy change, there is pushback from opponents who are powerful and heavily invested in the current framework. Leaders might make noises about revolutionary change, but change usually occurs incrementally, if it happens at all.
You're just watching that pushback against Trump's possible future policies in realtime...
A couple of small things... many pieces contended that Taiwan was a "core interest" of China. The is one of the ways the media noise helps conceal what is actually going on, supporting Beijing inadvertently. Taiwan is not a core interest of China. Let's spell this out for future reference:
Taiwan is not a core interest of China. Annexing Taiwan without interference from other Powers is the core interest at stake here.PRC nationalism has now invested Taiwan with deep expansionist significance -- two generations have been brainwashed. It will be difficult for the PRC to decouple itself from this train. Let's hope it can find a way, but in the meantime... keep talking to the individual Chinese you meet.
The overreading into Trump's remarks (On video) was comical. Many commentators over-read "I heard the call was coming probably an hour or two before" to mean he never knew about the call, but the comment was not meant in so literal a way. Much of the noise is driven by the media's profound anti-Trump bias. And no, I am not defending Trump (pointing out media bias is not the same as defending Trump). Nor am I a neo-con (now that's comedy -- I'm so pink there's a shoot-on-sight order on me in Saudi Arabia).
Is Taiwan going to be used as a bargaining chip? It some ways it always has been, but no, the Trump Administration isn't going to sell Taiwan for oil drilling rights for Exxon or for lower tariffs on US goods or for a different currency policy. Could things get worse? Well, the NY Times sententiously warned us that Bad Things Could Happen. Salvatore Babones laffed:
The NYT warns that China could buy Airbus, trade with North Korea, burn coal, snub Taiwan, and trade with Iran. So?Things China is doing anyway. Ye gods.
Yes, our newspapers are always pointing out what China could do to the US. We never hear what could happen in return. A tit for tat trade war helps no one, which is why it won't happen.
Meanwhile, Trump's foreign policy trolling is a success: that much less attention and space in the mainstream media is given to his Administration picks....
- DON'T MISS WaPo: Steven Goldstein explains why Trump's words are a problem, and even correctly and openly states the US one China policy. Good stuff.
- National Interest: Cole on one China, many Trumps
- TIME: Trump's one China doubting sparks fear and hope in Taiwan
- WashTimes: Tkacik on Five Myths about the US one China policy
- WaPo: China paper says Trump ignorant as baby
- NYTimes: What China could do
- Vox: Trump is using Taiwan as bargaining chip
- Brookings: Obama asia chief Jeff Bader on Trump-China-US
- QZ: What China could do
- Cole: The Call: domestic side
- IBTimes: One China policy not for trading
- National Interest: The Call heralds new Asia policy
- SCMP: Trump = wild card, previous presidents got more "pragmatic"
- Video: Bill Sharp kicks ass on tourists and other stuff
- Video: Trump's remarks on Fox
- Audio: Shelly Rigger on Trump-China-US
- Audio: Bonnie Glaser on Trump-China-US
- Foreign Policy: Another call for Taiwan to be Taiwan
- Bloomberg: Japan watches uneasily
- NYTimes: Obama says Taiwan "close ally" of the US
- TT: US includes Taiwan in military bill, upgrade of relations
- BBC: (here for completeness)
- National Review: Taiwan is America's BFF, and Trump was right on phone call
- LATimes: Taiwan is trending, and Taiwanese-Americans have mixed feelings
- The Guardian: Donald Trump... nah, forget it. It appears Simon Tisdall knows even less about US China policy than Donald Trump.
- Chinese Foreign Ministry: China official met with Flynn to exchange views
- Foreign policy: Tsai Ing-wen in their Global Thinkers.
- Banyan: Taiwan debates gay marriage
- Hong Kong independence activists assaulted by pro-China groups on visit to Taiwan
- Japan Times: The excellent Jeff Kingston on the gay marriage culture war
- Conscription to end in 2018
- Slow grow over next 2 years forecasted
- Airport MRT line to be operational.... any minute now.
- Tsai urges bilateral trade deal with US. Yes, please
MANAGING CHINA... the minds congregated in Trump Tower remain opaque to even the best down here, of course, but Asia types who happen to be Republican privately confess concern that at least part of Trump's Sunday interview performance may have inadvertently made instability more, not less likely.
On the whole, Loyal Readers trying to find reasons to support Trump say they are OK with his musings on "one China", although they of course understand China's discomfort...their argument being that the whole point of Trump's thinking in taking the phone-call from Pres. Tsai is that the US needs to regain the initiative in dealing with Taiwan issues, instead of always seeming to give China a veto, even on matters that are purely US business like trade management:
Many say Trump is threatening the basis of U.S.-China relations, and that is true, but Beijing has by various acts also threatened that basis, in the Taiwan area and in others. Who says only the Chinese are allowed to change policy?
That being said or argued, however, there is clear dismay at the second part of Trump's Sunday remarks "by seeming to apply his real-estate based 'transactional' approach". To paraphrase the gist of the concerns...magnified in the important Steve Goldstein OpEd which follows:
Trump's intimation that Taiwan is a bargaining chip is worrisome. Put aside the notion that we should support democracies because they are democracies. Also put aside the fact that Taiwan is not ours to bargain away. The problem with Trump's bargaining-chip comment is that it has the potential for needlessly aggravating relations with China. If Beijing felt Trump were a firm believer in Taiwan, it would huff and puff but eventually realize it was no match in the long run for U.S. power.
But if Chinese leaders think Trump is not serious about supporting Taiwan because it's only a chip, they would be, I think, tempted to push harder, knowing they could get more out of Washington by being even more belligerent. That creates what we all fear, the spiral downward.If the Chinese think they can't budge Trump, we will be much better off. And so will they.
Picking-up and expanding on the "bargaining chip" or "transactional risk:
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
…With that, I’ll go to you, Brad.
MR KIRBY: Okay.
QUESTION: What is your take on the president-elect’s comments about the “one China” policy and making that potentially contingent on trade or other concessions from Beijing?
MR KIRBY: Here’s what I’d say, and I obviously can only speak for our Administration. But we remain firmly committed to our “one China” policy which, as you know, is based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relation Acts – sorry, the Taiwan Relations Act. This policy has supported our fundamental interest in peaceful and stable cross-strait relations through both Democratic and Republican administrations over the past 40 years. We do not believe that altering this approach is going to serve our fundamental interest in cross-strait peace and stability or strengthen our relations with the people of Taiwan or, frankly, improve our ability to shape China’s decisions going forward.
QUESTION: Have you had any interactions with your Chinese counterparts since this latest interview of the president-elect? I remember before you did but --
MR KIRBY: None that I’m aware of. None that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you --
MR KIRBY: And as I understand it, this – the interview took place just yesterday, so I’m not aware of any interaction.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. Are you aware of any – or let me put it this way: Are you concerned that these types of comments could have immediate effects on U.S.-Chinese cooperation on North Korea, on cyber, on some of the other things that you’ve strove so hard to improve cooperation on?
MR KIRBY: I mean, it’s difficult to – it’s difficult to know with any certainty, Brad. What I can tell you is that we’ve been clear, we will remain clear with Chinese leaders, as well as Taiwan, our commitment to this “one China” policy and our commitment, as I said, to better – I should say peaceful and stable cross-strait relations. And so I – I’ve seen no – I don’t think I have any reaction to read out as a result of the comments or certainly any tangible practical effect as a result of them. And for our part, we’re just going to stay focused on the policy that we’ve been pursuing and, as I said, has been pursued now for four-plus decades in terms of a “one China” policy. So I can’t obviously predict what the new administration will actually implement in terms of China policy. I can just tell you that we’re going to stay focused on pursuing the same agenda.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I just ask you then about the Chinese reaction? Some of it’s been quite virulent. Do you think the Chinese are overreacting with some of their reactions? For example, I think some state newspapers called the president-elect an ignorant child. Is that something you would take umbrage with or dispute? Your response?
MR KIRBY: I appreciate the question. I think I’m not in a position to characterize their reaction and their characterization of the comments made. I think you’re right; we’ve seen their public comments. I’ll let the Chinese speak for themselves in terms of the way they want to react to the interview. I would just tell you that, again, we’re focused on the “one China” policy that we’ve been pursuing, been pursued by administrations in both parties in the past. We – as I said, we believe any change to that is not going to serve our fundamental interest in cross-strait relations.
The other thing that I would say is that here at the department what we’re – in terms of transition, what we’re mostly focused on – actually, what we’re solely focused on is making sure that we can provide for a good, healthy transition here to the next administration, that they have the context, the information that they need to develop whatever policy agenda they’re going to pursue.
QUESTION: You know, and they also threatened --
QUESTION: So – and a follow-up?
QUESTION: They also threatened to arm U.S. adversaries and so on.
MR KIRBY: Who is “they”?
QUESTION: The Chinese. They said they can also arm groups who are --
MR KIRBY: Well, I’m not --
QUESTION: -- who are adversarial to --
MR KIRBY: I’m not going to speculate --
QUESTION: -- to U.S. interests everywhere it --
MR KIRBY: I don’t find it useful to speculate and hypothesize about what’s coming down the road under the next administration. These are – these are serious matters and serious policy issues that they will need to work through. What we’re going to do is make sure that we’re poised and ready to provide them whatever context they need as they begin to make these decisions. But I want to be clear again that we have continued what has been a bipartisan approach for the past 40 years with respect to a “one China” policy, and we continue to believe – this Administration continues to believe – that this serves our interests, our national security interests, in the best possible way. The next administration, the president-elect will have to make these decisions for himself and for themselves. Again, we believe in the soundness of it and we will remain, again, poised and ready to provide them whatever context they need as they work their way through it. I just won’t – I just don’t find it useful to guess about implications one way or the other going forward, and I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t take it upon myself to characterize the Chinese reaction. I think it speaks for itself. You’ve seen their public comments. I think as Brad accurately said, they’re – they’re direct.
QUESTION: May I have a follow-up?
MR KIRBY: Yes.
QUESTION: So I just want to clarify. So is the transition team contact or reach out with you with regard to the policy guideline, or did you provide any information to the transition team?
MR KIRBY: Right. So they’re here. There is a transition team here at the State Department and we have been – there have been discussions between them and various officials here at the State Department. As I said earlier, and I’m going to stick to my pledge, I’m not going to do a daily readout here of who they’re talking to or what information they’re asking for or what they’re deciding to do with the information that they’re getting. That is for them to speak to. But they are here, they are working, and we are providing information to them as they see fit, as they deem appropriate.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!