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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Trump is a realization of China’s worst fears

Trump is a realization of China’s worst fears

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US president-elect Donald Trump won the US election because he refused to play by the rules and his non-traditional approach to foreign policies as an incoming US president only reaffirmed his tendency to break the rules. Politicians, academia and the media have all described him as “unpredictable.”

Advocates of Sinocentrism in Taiwan and China have denounced him as a mere “businessman” who would go back on his word at every opportunity to get what he can.

Some say that Taiwanese who expect Trump to help Taiwan following his telephone call with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will be disappointed.

Chinese should be fearful of Trump. Chinese emperors and leaders, well-versed in the art of politics, have always controlled their people and neighboring nations through intimidation — specifically by creating the illusion that they are fearless and unpredictable — and promoting nationalism.

However, Trump is also unpredictable. Moreover, having run with the campaign slogan “Make America great again,” Trump is undaunted by the prospect of an arms race with China. His tactics toward China are exactly what the latter has been using toward others.

Since the time of former US president Richard Nixon and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who typically supported collaborating with China to counter the Soviet Union, the US has been employing a double standard that has allowed China to get away with much of what it wants. This has been an issue for so long that people have come to accept it as normal.

As Chinese-American academic Yu Ying-shih (余英時) has said, for the past several decades the US has been afraid of offending China to the point where it would compromise its principles to appease Beijing, but fortunately this problem is almost entirely cured now.

Despite pressure from Beijing, Trump has answered Tsai’s telephone call, made pungent remarks about China’s seizure of a US underwater drone, threatened to strengthen and expand the US’ nuclear weapons, and is apparently not trying to avoid initiating an arms race. He knows Beijing’s threats are mere bluff, which is essential in putting China in its place.

His aggressive stance is in line with a US Republican tradition that can be traced back to former US secretary of state John Dulles and former US president Ronald Reagan.

While Dulles prevented the spread of communism with his policy of brinkmanship, Reagan dragged down the Soviet Union by engaging it in a space race.

With its enormous land and population and a domineering attitude, China has for years ignored international rules and has often taken advantage of other nations to boost its own economy. Nevertheless, the US has finally come to realize the harm that China has done.

Beijing, which tends to be overconfident, has viewed the US’ eagerness for cooperation as a sign that it is in decline. However, the rise of Trump will likely change many things. His demand that China must play by international rules, or a trade war or arms race would be inevitable, is exactly what China has been fearing.

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Tu Yu-an

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2016/12/31

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Hundreds of student protesters against a China-Taiwan trade pact surround the legislature in Taipei for a second day yesterday.
Photo: Taipei Times

Despite attempts by the police to retake the legislative chamber yesterday, hundreds of demonstrators — mainly student activists — continued the occupation they began late on Tuesday night to protest the cross-strait trade pact, while thousands more outside the Legislative Yuan kept the building under siege.

“Reject the service trade pact! Reopen the negotiations! Defend our democracy!” about 2,500 protesters — within and outside the legislative chamber — chanted during the day.