3rd US-China clash on South China Sea since Trump takeover

James Marshall
January 25, 2017

Southeast Asian countries in particular fear having to choose between the United States and China should relations between the two sides deteriorate under Trump, rocking the current status quo of a balance of powers in the region.

It is hard not to conclude that we are in for a year of living dangerously, with ill-considered economic and political-military acts likely to cause no small bit of damage before the Trump administration gets mugged by reality.

Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday warned Washington to "speak and act cautiously" on the South China Sea. Similarly, a "One China" policy is merely a bargaining chip in negotiating better trade deals with China.

At Davos last week, Xi called for "inclusive globalization" and for global unity, saying "self-isolation will benefit no-one", two days before the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

If China does become the new global hegemon, it will act differently than the U.S.

In an interview following his presentation, Dr. Hudson said President Trump's renegotiation of the trade agreements and bringing jobs back to the USA are both developments that are likely to put pressure on the dollar "in terms of raising its value". Barack Obama announced a "rebalance" to Asia but there is a sense that his administration "over-promised and under-delivered".

Trump also criticized China for manipulating its currency.

During the campaign season, Trump often pointed toward China's island-building as evidence that the U.S. was "losing" to China, a predicament which he vowed to reverse. "If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities", he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday, upset Beijing before taking office by casting doubt on the "one China" principle, under which Washington acknowledges Beijing's position of sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.

The trade balance however tilted heavily in favour of China as it exports over Dollars 400 billion worth of goods to US. And, if we try to renegotiate that, don't think the Mexicans and the Canadians aren't going to come to the table with demands for changes in things that are important to them. That doesn't mean that Chile is going to change tack.

China will take a positive approach to its relationship with the United States, said Paul Haenle, a China adviser to President George W. Bush who's now director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing, adding that the country is "firm in safeguarding our rights and interests".

During a briefing Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Washington would "defend worldwide territories" in the strategic waterway and keep them from being taken over by one country.

In Washington, alarm bells sounded.

"I have talked to leaders of Asian countries who have all said that this will cede the field to China". On defense, it will need a good, continuing commitment to America's allies.

When Trump and Democratic party insurgent Bernie Sanders began looming large a year ago, both attacking the TPP, opinion leaders in Japan and Taiwan began speculating about the future of USA engagement in Asia.

The same can't be said for Mexico and China. "It doesn't have anywhere near the disciplines that TPP has".

Chinas comments came even as Trump today pulled United States out of the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which his predecessor Barack Obama had vigorously pursued leaving China out of it.

"A trade war is a lose-lose for both sides, but the U.S. will be harder hit", she said.

Beijing again set off alarm bells within the worldwide community this month when the Chinese aircraft carrier, dubbed the Liaoning, traversed a Taiwanese no-fly zone along the straits separating the country from China.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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