Trump Informs China He Is Taking Their Free Lunch — The Beltway Times

D.C. BELTWAY

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In keeping in line with his boisterous reputation, President-elect Donald Trump sent the proverbial cannon shot across the Chinese junk ship bow yesterday evening with a series of provocative tweets.

We have officially entered an age where our next president has signaled he is willing, ready, and able to continue his effective use of social media to make powerful political points. Even if it happens to involve a country and culture used to a social media landscape rife with censorship, lacking any sort of political discourse, and fully controlled by the national government. Need clarification of China’s oppressive social media policies? Look no further than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s shameless capitulation to China’s censorship demands last week.

It’s clear that Chinese leaders are not used to this brand of banter from any global leader, least of all, the incoming president-elect of a country that takes in $410.8 billion dollars in Chinese imports each year but has, for 40 years, tacitly refused to speak out against oppressive Chinese policies in the public forum. That’s 18% of total Chinese exports — a number that is three times higher than the closest non-Chinese mainland competitor. Given that the trade deficit between the two countries is $257.6 billion dollars in China’s favor, it would have been hard to imagine the Chinese government responding back in kind.

Fearful analysts and pundits lighting up the cable news landscape, however, felt otherwise. Their predictions of the “Communist-Capitalist” Asian nation’s reaction to Trump’s provocations have ranged from worries about Chinese diplomatic complications to “Chicken Little-like” cries of certain, impending military action from the world’s most populous nation.

These calls first began after the Taiwanese President gave President-elect Trump a “courtesy” call over the weekend to congratulate him on the results of the election. China and Taiwan have had a strained relationship since the communist takeover of the Chinese mainland, and the United States does not formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, but rather as an extended territory of China. Trump campaign officials and Vice President-elect Mike Pence made efforts to downplay the significance of the phone call and emphasized that the warm conversation between the two parties did not signify any long-standing policy shift between their nations.

Trump addressed the media controversy sparked by the phone call, making it clear that their conversation was initiated by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.

After a few hours of witnessing talking heads explode on cable news over his acceptance of the phone call, Trump decided it was time to truly speak his mind.

Not to be outdone, a bit of additional fuel was thrown onto the fire today when Stephen Moore, a chief economic adviser to President-elect Trump, said that if Beijing did not like it [Trump’s early policy statements on China], “screw ’em.”

Though Chinese diplomats have largely remained silent to this point, state-sponsored newspapers like the Global Times were not shy in voicing their opinions, claiming that Trump “threw a tantrum against China Sunday night…stirring up troubles against China before he is sworn in.”

“It appears inevitable that Sino-US ties will witness more troubles in his early time in the White House than any other predecessor.”

“Trump can make a lot of noise but that does not exempt him from the rules of the major power game. He doesn’t have sufficient resources to deal with China wantonly, the second largest economy, the biggest trading country and a nuclear power,” the Global Times continued.

“Trump’s reckless remarks against a major power show his lack of experience in diplomacy. He may have overestimated the power of the US…we must confront Trump’s provocations head on.”

Is Donald Trump poking the proverbial Panda Bear needlessly or is this yet another example of the President-elect taking an extreme, tone-setting position that will make a middle-of-the-road compromise that much easier once he takes office?

My bet is on the latter.