The NYTimes reported on what Trump traded for Chinese noises of amicability on N Korea and some copyrights for the Trump Empire... turns out weeks ago the Navy asked for permission to do some South China Sea freedom of navigation exercises....
But instead, the Pacific Command request — and two others by the Navy in February — was turned down by top Pentagon officials before it even made it to President Trump’s desk. More than 100 days into the Trump presidency, no American Navy ship has gone within 12 miles of any of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, Defense Department officials said.Yeah, it wasn't Taiwan that got traded, but the South China Sea. This represents a much bigger defeat than Australia's bow to Chinese shouts. Not only is our established principle of freedom of navigation now threatened -- what will Trump do when China announces that the SCS is territorial waters in which it will control the movements of ships -- but Trump has betrayed every nation on the SCS littoral that was looking for US leadership and support. Hugh White, loyal Friend of Beijing, was quick to point out the awkward position Australia would have been in, had it thrown down its own FONOPs missions.
The decision not to challenge China’s territorial claims represents a remarkable deference toward Beijing from an administration that is increasingly turning toward President Xi Jinping for help amid the escalating crisis in the Korean Peninsula. It remained unclear on Tuesday whether it was Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; or one of their deputies who turned down the three requests. Defense officials said the White House was not involved.
Trump is so weak, I almost doubt China will throw an ADIZ over the SCS, because it would be superfluous.
And there is Taiwan. "Freedom of Navigation" in the South China Sea has crossed President Tsai's lips more than once (here and here), signaling Tsai's aligning herself with the US. Which, for the moment, has left her high and dry.
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