‘China containment’?: President Trump and his administration pick partners in an uneven, power-sharing relationship

The Trump administration would hardly seek to draw comparison’s in foreign policy had it not botched the highly significant occasion of announcing the president’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Yet the mere fact that the administration decided to invite the Chinese government to this meeting speaks volumes. We are far from being old and status quo in East Asia, thanks to the American ruling elite. And now the president, prodded by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of Beijing, has made clear that he is a realist in those parlance terms.

Come to think of it, the last-minute selection of the Chinese as party guests is a portent of things to come.

His gambit, which generated discussion and criticism from Congress and around the nation’s political think tanks, involved recognizing Taiwan in the near term. On closer inspection the communication seems to permit Beijing to stay put in a South China Sea incident already challenging the United States. In the longer term, this is a position more friendlier to an American strategic retreat from Asia.

The original substance of the outreach to China was rushed out to the Taipei-based Blue Window Weekly. It was unknown that a stand-alone meeting was possible because the White House delegated this mission to Taiwan, Taiwan’s authoritative English-language newspaper said.

“It was hastily created,” said Yang Wannian, the political editor of the Blue Window, the newspaper that initially carried the White House invitation.

Chinese officials have no precedent for such a surprise.

According to Yang, Taiwan-watchers in Taiwan reported that Beijing had expected to be approached about inviting Chinese officials at a U.S.-China joint-starts meeting. This meeting, to be held in April, is expected to feature officials from the People’s Republic of China, the National Development and Reform Commission, and China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The long-term question behind this development in U.S.-China relations is whether this “Summit for Democracy” will develop into something substantial or just two to three days of ceremonial sideshows.

“Dirty Words” from Stephen Bannon: The person the “never-Trumpers” blamed for President Trump’s past sayings has nothing to do with the wording and syntax of these contentious tweets. Here’s an example.

.@StephenBannon you are nothing but dirt on Trump & rangers in a Tea Party Scam #SOTUQuoteFail https://t.co/Z8mF0ktn6T — Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) February 23, 2016

This is the dominant narrative circulating in Washington and around the country. No one is defending Bannon’s longtime position that Western civilization is under assault by eastern Muslims, the colonialists, and neocolonialists. But the naked double standards in the political class’s behavior become staggering.

One would expect the Democrats, who have enjoyed a fair share of insults from the traditional left for having “stolen” Middle Eastern lands and imposed the Palestine Authority on the Palestinians for more than half a century, to raise an eyebrow over the so-called cupcakes-and-cupcakes vignette. This article, which compares the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to the Irish peace process, does raise a good point about the alarming rise of Middle Eastern autocrats in places such as Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

When I was at the American Enterprise Institute, George P. Shultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, accused the Chinese of seeking to limit the prosperity of Third World countries that seek to associate with the United States. This exchange with Shultz took place during a July 2013 Atlantic Magazine event on “The Rise of Communist China.” After the event, Shultz offered some unsolicited advice to Joshua Muravchik, an AEI scholar who played a major role in planning the Atlantic festivities.

“I’d tell him that you’ve got to keep the pressure on China,” Shultz said. “It’s one of those areas where we do have leverage. And for China to realize that it has to change its course.”

Sebastian Mallaby, writing in The New Yorker, observes the significance of the millennial connection between President Trump and Xi Jinping.

“He was elected president and so went through the suit and he went through the coat — and then Donald Trump came along.”

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