Right, then, today’s the day. The inauguration is about to begin. Mr. Trump can expect to be tested at once.
From today’s NightWatch:
China-US: On 19 January, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ms. Hua Chunying answered a question about China’s relations with the new US administration. Her reply is China official position regarding the US on the eve of inauguration. As such, it represents a baseline for studying US-China relations.
“We are also paying close attention to the 20 January inauguration ceremony of the new US President. As for our expectations for China-US relations under the new US administration, we have repeatedly indicated our relevant position recently.”
“The China-US relations is one of the most important bilateral relations in the world. China and the United States are the world’s top two major economies and the largest developing country and the largest developed country respectively.”
“A healthy and stable development of China-US relations is in line with the common interests of the people in the two countries. In fact, the development of China-US relations over the last few years has fully proved that China and the United States have far more common interests than differences, and cooperation between China and the United States can accomplish many things in a big way for the benefits of the two countries and the world.”
“Whether it is for the interests of China and the United States and the two peoples, or for promoting world peace, stability, and development, we have every reason to expect and believe that China and the United States can work together to ensure that China-US relations will move forward along the correct direction in a healthy and stable way.”
“Of course, on some specific issues and differences between China and the United States, the two countries should engage in dialogue and communication in a constructive way to deepen understanding in the intentions of each other, avoid misinterpretation and misjudgment, manage and control differences in a constructive way, and ensure the overall healthy and stable development of China-US relations.”
“We look forward to work hard with the new US administration, continue to uphold the principles of non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, and continue to expand cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues, and other fields to strive to push China-US relations toward greater development at a new starting point.”
NightWatch Comment: Hua remarks essentially are a tutorial for the benefit of the US President-elect, laying out China’s expectations of American behavior. Hua was careful to avoid provocative statements, but Chinese behavior in the past eight years belies her reassurances about stability and “non-confrontation”. The Chinese have their own definitions of the principles for managing state relations “in a healthy and stable way.” The “correct direction” always favors China.
China is in confrontation with both Koreas; Japan; all the countries in southeast Asia except the Philippines; Burma, and India. Stability means that other states affected by Chinese initiatives should not react aggressively to protect their interests.
Non-confrontation applies to the US Navy and Japan’s self-defense forces, but not to Chinese ships intruding in the Senkakus or to China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. In 2012, Chinese forces simply seized the Philippine territory of Scarborough Shoal by force.
Chinese and North Korean missiles that can target South Korea and Japan are not provocative, but the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea and Japan is destabilizing. US bases are destabilizing, but the Chinese base in Djibouti is not.
Improvements to Vietnam’s islands are provocative, but China’s militarization of its man-made islets is not. President Xi’s Silk Road and Belt projects offer significant economic benefits to cooperating countries at the price of compromising their security and redirecting world trade. China’s reach is now farther than ever in Chinese history.
China’s focus on common interests ignores the much weightier issues on which national interests diverge, including North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. Plus, there is a pattern. Chinese initiatives invariably are stabilizing and benign, so the Chinese assert. Resistance, disagreement or counter-initiatives, perforce, must be destabilizing and malign.
The statement of principles is beguiling. No one could object the principles, but the Chinese do not practice them. Nor do the Russians. They are for others – the victims and targets — to practice. Additionally, they appear to support the existing international order, as suggested by President Xi in Davos. However, they also help the China Dream in which China is building a new Sino-centric world order.
The new starting point is a test of wills and strength between an emerging Sino-centric world order and a re-energized US-centric world order.
Buckle up, folks.