[Marxism] WSJ: U.S. Edges Toward New Cold-War Era With China
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Sat Oct 13 09:36:01 MDT 2018
On 10/13/18 11:27 AM, Glenn Kissack via Marxism wrote:
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U.S., China Edge Closer To a New Cold War
Bender, Michael C; Lubold, Gordon; O'Keeffe, Kate; Page, Jeremy.
WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is moving deliberately to counter
what the White House views as years of unbridled Chinese aggression,
taking aim at military, political and economic targets in Beijing and
signaling a new and potentially much colder era in U.S.-China relations.
In the first 18 months of the administration, ties between the world's
two biggest powers were defined by negotiations over how to restrain
North Korea and ways to rebalance trade. Those high-profile endeavors
masked White House preparations for a more hard-nosed stance with
Beijing -- a strategy now surfacing as China's help with Pyongyang wanes
and trade talks stall.
Interviews with senior White House officials and others in government
make clear that recent volleys in what appears a new Cold War aren't the
exception to President Trump's China policy. They are exactly what the
administration wants -- putting the spotlight on a meeting between Mr.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a multilateral summit planned
Vice President Mike Pence last week gave a blistering speech on
U.S.-China relations, saying "the United States has adopted a new
approach to China" with the message to China: "This president will not
On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced new rules targeting
China that tighten national security reviews of foreign investment. On
the same day, the Justice Department said it had brought a Chinese
intelligence operative arrested in Belgium to the U.S. to face charges
he conspired to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation and others. It was
the first time prosecutors publicly identified someone in custody as a
Chinese intelligence officer.
The Energy Department announced Thursday heightened controls on nuclear
technology exports to China. The administration also signed off recently
on Justice Department directives that force a pair of Chinese state
media outlets to register as foreign agents.
The speed of the shift to a more confrontational China strategy has
surprised many Chinese officials and sent Beijing scrambling to
stabilize the relationship, with Washington the disrupter, analysts said.
"The U.S. is getting tougher and tougher, confronting China on all
fronts," said Zhu Feng, an expert on China-U.S. relations at Nanjing
University. "Beijing should be very coolheaded because does a new Cold
War serve China's interests? No."
The U.S. moves represent an emphatic shift from a "constructive
engagement" strategy that dates to the establishment of diplomatic ties
in 1979. It was based on hopes China would slowly liberalize
economically and politically.
Underpinning the change is the view that China has reversed course since
Mr. Xi took over in 2012 and began recentralizing political and economic
controls, pledging to build his nation into a great world power.
The more aggressive U.S. approach was forecast last December, in the
National Security Strategy that put China on par with North Korea, Iran
and jihadist terrorist groups as the biggest U.S. threats. At the time,
the strategy contrasted with Mr. Trump's personal diplomacy.
Early in his term, Mr. Trump flattered Mr. Xi, talking up a holiday card
he received before taking office and sharing "the most beautiful piece
of chocolate cake" at their Mar-a-Lago dinner in the spring of 2017. He
scotched a campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator,
saying he didn't want to jeopardize a potential ally against the threat
from North Korea.
Since then, White House advisers have changed to a more hawkish crew.
And Mr. Trump has seen that his personal and controversial gambits --
extending a lifeline to China's ZTE Corp., for instance -- haven't
yielded enough in return. After a dozen phone calls with Mr. Xi, an
exchange of letters and several face-to-face meetings, the tepid
response from China has irritated the president, one senior
administration official described, like death from a thousand cuts.
Beijing was infuriated by the U.S. decision last month to impose
sanctions on a Chinese military agency -- and its chief -- for
purchasing Russian SU-35 jet fighters and equipment related to its S-400
antiaircraft missile system, U.S. officials said.
China responded to the sanctions by lodging a formal complaint with the
U.S. ambassador, ordering the return of its navy chief from a visit to
Washington, and refusing permission for a U.S. Navy ship to port in Hong
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, speaking recently at the Council on
Foreign Relations, said growing U.S. fears that China would seek global
hegemony was a serious strategic misjudgment.
"Where this ends is a trade deal," a senior administration official
said. "Xi is starting to look at this and say, 'Wow, Trump is doing the
things he said he's going to do,' and realize that he has to get to work.'"
The November meeting between Messrs. Trump and Xi may help soothe
tensions on trade but there appears little prospect the new U.S. stance
will soften. There is a souring on China across Washington, even in
groups that have long promoted U.S.-China relations.
Many in the business community, for instance, have favored a
"grow-together" policy with China, with the hope it would open the
world's second-biggest economy to American companies. That optimism has
turned to distrust, largely over China's aggressive focus on acquiring
U.S. technology. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has criticized the theft
of intellectual property.
At the Pentagon, military brass have historically sought a relationship
with their Chinese counterparts that would survive political mood
swings. Even there, senior officials say they have reached their limit.
Efforts to build the U.S.-China military relationship by showing off
American capabilities have been exploited by the Chinese. Gen. Joe
Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came away even more
clear-eyed about that after a trip to Beijing last year to establish a
formal military communication mechanism: An aide's tablet, left in a
hotel room, had been tampered with, souring the U.S. military
establishment on doing business with China.
This month, a Beijing trip by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, already
stalled over a failure to agree on goals for the meeting, was canceled
after a Chinese destroyer nearly clipped a U.S. Navy vessel in the South
Mr. Trump first displayed an antagonistic posture toward China on the
presidential campaign trail, referring to it as the enemy.
"I beat the people from China -- I win against China," Mr. Trump said at
a campaign rally in 2015 in Bluffton, S.C. "You can win against China if
you're smart. But our people don't have a clue. We give state dinners to
the heads of China. I said, 'Why are you doing state dinners for them?
They're ripping us left and right.' Just take them to McDonald's and go
back to the negotiating table."
The view caught on with his voters. Among Republicans who identify as
Trump supporters, just 4% agreed that China was an ally, while 86% said
it was an adversary, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in
Plans for a tough approach to China were contemplated early in the Trump
administration. Then came the diversions: North Korea launched missiles.
Trade disputes erupted not just with China, but also with the European
Union, Canada and Mexico.
There also were calls for a more conciliatory approach to Beijing in
those early days. Then-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad asked Mr. Trump to tone
down heated rhetoric because of significant trade between China and the
farmers in his state. Mr. Branstad was selected to be the U.S.
ambassador to China.
Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, helped set
up Mr. Trump's trip to Beijing last year, and emphasized the importance
of the relationship between the two countries. Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin portrayed himself to the president and the Chinese as someone
who could bridge the divide. Gary Cohn, the top national economic
adviser, argued against imposing tariffs on China.
Mr. Mnuchin's efforts to act as a mediator have since yielded few
results, reducing his influence over China policy and showing that
negotiations with Beijing would be tougher than anticipated, people
familiar with the matter said. Mr. Cohn is now gone, and Mr. Kushner has
turned his focus elsewhere.
That has given way to more hawkish aides, including White House chief of
staff John Kelly, a military veteran. His view of China, like Gen.
Dunford's, was hardened by experience, according to a person familiar
with the matter.
During Mr. Trump's visit to Beijing last fall, Mr. Kelly got into a
physical altercation with a Chinese official who was seeking access to
the nuclear football, the briefcase that includes the president's mobile
nuclear-missile command center. Mr. Kelly told colleagues that he
refused to accept an apology, and would accept one only if a senior
Chinese official came to Washington and offered contrition while
standing under a U.S. flag.
Peter Navarro, the president's trade adviser, is a longtime China hawk
and compiled a recent report for Mr. Trump that showed how China's
economic aggression threatens the U.S. technology sector.
John Bolton, the new national security adviser, has long advocated for a
tough approach to China. According to a senior administration official,
Mr. Bolton has "unleashed" Matthew Pottinger, chief Asia adviser for the
White House, to push for stronger China policies.
The views of Mr. Pottinger, a former U.S. Marine and former reporter for
The Wall Street Journal, were reflected in the National Security
Strategy that last year put China in the same threat category as North
Korea and Iran.
Looking ahead, U.S. officials expect new pressure on China. A plan to
punish private companies that help Beijing's expansion in the South
China Sea was discussed early in the administration but shelved. It is
being reviewed again.
The Commerce Department expects to tighten export controls, aimed at
preventing U.S. surveillance technology from being used against China's
Muslim Uighur minority.
The White House also expects to release a report on U.S. foreign
assistance that will take aim at China and, at least indirectly, its
so-called Belt and Road infrastructure development program.
Mr. Pence has criticized related projects in the program, saying they
leave nations buried in debt. "We seek a relationship grounded in
fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty," he said in his
speech last week. "And we have taken strong and swift action to achieve
Vivian Salama contributed to this article.
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