US President Trump’s efforts to contain China will lead to mutually assured destruction: Expert
Tension in ties might be inevitable between China and the US under the new administration but President Donald Trump should think about viable options rather than playing out a zero sum game between Washington and Beijing, a leading Chinese expert on international relations has said.
Efforts to contain China could easily backfire on the US and if Washington forces the situation, it could easily escalate to the doctrine of “mutually assured destruction,” Victor Zhikai Gao, leading foreign policy expert and chairperson of the China Energy Security Institute, told HT.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had attacked China many times, accusing it of taking away American jobs. He also riled Beijing by speaking to the president of self-ruled Taiwan, which China views as a wayward province with no right to formal foreign ties.
Trump, however, made no direct mention of China in his inaugural address.
“What will be endgame of containing China? Is China just like a submissive lamb to be slaughtered at the altar? No. China is more or less is armed to the teeth. China does not have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world but if you talk about the MAD, China has that capacity,” said Gao, who was once the translator of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
Gao was among the many Chinese academics and experts – besides officials and diplomats – who closely followed Trump’s inauguration and his 16-minute speech early Saturday.
He said “the greatest certainty now is the uncertainty and the greatest predictability now is the unpredictability”.
“All countries including China and including India need to really wait and size up the situation very carefully. It is not the time to make any hasty judgement or hasty decisions, mainly because we do not know what President Trump is really up to. What exactly is his relation with Russia, for example, and how he will really put what he has said into the action of the US government,” Gao added.
But one thing is sure, according to Gao: If Trump has plans to contain China – by aligning with countries like Japan, Philippines or the NATO – he should re-think.
“If anyone in the world really tries to contain 1.4 billion Chinese people, it is ludicrous, it is a fantasy. No one can be successful in containing China with 1.4 billion with up to about 100 million overseas Chinese in all corners of the world. It is a fantasy,” he said.
The nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, also send out a warning after Trump’s inauguration.
“Although Trump has spent a lot of time talking about China over the past year, his actual China policy has yet to take shape. Definitely, the Trump administration wants to boost exports to China and relocate factories from China back to the US. Taiwan will be merely a bargaining chip for them to put trade pressure on China,” the tabloid said in an editorial on Saturday.
“Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will be igniting many “fires” on its front door and around the world. Let’s wait and see when it will be China’s turn.”
At the same time, China is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst – especially in trade ties.
“On the world stage, Trump will likely align his foreign policy with US corporate interests, blurring the lines of ideology or political values. Frictions between the US and its allies, and trade tensions between the US and China seem inevitable within the four years ahead,” paper added.