Why is China nervous about Trump

Analysis of tensions USA - China - Trump plays into the hands of China

Washington is talking about a new cold war. Beijing is ready for it because it has learned a lot from America.

When it comes to China, the tones that come from Washington get more shrill. There is already talk of a new cold war. Not just because of the “epidemic from China”, as Donald Trump calls the corona virus. There are also arguments about Beijing's territorial claims or the use of 5G technology. In fact, China has been appearing for some time with the self-image of a superpower and forbids any interference when it comes to the Uyghurs or, as is currently the case, about Hong Kong. According to its own statements, the US has unsuccessfully requested a meeting of the UN Security Council over the controversial Chinese security law for Hong Kong. China blocked the proposal.

History like the Tiananmen massacre

It also fits that the regime in Beijing denies having denied the risk of a corona pandemic. This is a misrepresentation of history as we know it from dealing with the Tiananmen massacre. In fact, with its cover-up policy, the communist leadership made a significant contribution to the virus being able to spread globally at all. Head of state Xi Jinping could therefore not complain if he received bills from all over the world to pay for the consequential economic damage.

In terms of content, Trump's criticism of China is therefore justified. However, its penetrative repetition and the aggressive way in which he formulates it are problematic. The US government seems to be rhetorically shooting at China right now. By cultivating this enemy image, the American president apparently wants to secure his re-election. However, this is counterproductive and dangerous, but corresponds to Trump's scapegoat policy.

This also includes the US president threatening to leave the World Health Organization. Despite all justified criticism of the naive way in which the WHO treats China, the Americans are badly advised to give up their supremacy as the largest donor without need. The UN organization has 194 members, only a few of which are likely to follow the United States. Especially not during a pandemic that cannot be defeated nationally but requires an international response. The US is giving itself the opportunity to lead such an effort. If Trump gives up America's position in the WHO, it will do little to keep burgeoning China in check. On the contrary, as already shown by the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between the countries bordering the Pacific, at the beginning of Trump's term in office.

Agreements are never perfect, but they are useful nonetheless

Washington has always exercised its influence not only through military alliances, but also through international organizations such as the WHO, the UN and the World Bank. This global network made a major contribution to America's success in the Cold War. Donald Trump no longer wants to know about this, he is weakening one international institution after the other, and now he wants to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty on air surveillance in foreign territories. While agreements like the open skies one cannot be perfect, they have reduced the risk of war while allowing the US to exercise its dominance.

The Chinese leadership is imitating the West's strategy in the Cold War.

Regardless of the rabble from the White House, Beijing can therefore live very well with the current US foreign policy. Because it offers China the unexpected opportunity to fill the global political vacuum that the Trump administration is leaving behind. The Chinese are world champions in copying, and on technical devices “Made in China” is the seal of a good copy. So it is hardly surprising that the Chinese leadership is also imitating the West's strategy in the Cold War.

Models of the Marshall Plan and tsunami aid

Examples of this are the charm offensive with which China is pushing the major power-political project of the new Silk Road. Or the seemingly selfless help during the Corona crisis. A dictatorship is staging itself as a benevolent superpower. The USA obviously serves as a model from the Marshall Plan to tsunami aid. And caught China's propaganda advances, especially since Trump has given anti-Americanism a new boost. Even in European democracies it is now sometimes said: "Look here, the Chinese are doing better."

Washington therefore feels challenged and sees the conflict with China as a power struggle between the superpower that dominated the 20th century and the one that wants to dominate the 21st. The diagnosis is correct: whenever a new superpower pushes forward and no longer respects the existing order, tectonic shifts occur. The political tensions that they trigger can discharge militarily, most likely at old ruptures. In this case in the Taiwan Strait or in the South China Sea.

Kennan already warned of "great shouting"

All of this is reminiscent of the late 1940s, when the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union emerged. At that time, George F. Kennan (1904–2005), chief planner in the US State Department, recommended a cautious but steadfast position towards the communist opponent: “The main element of any US policy towards the Soviet Union must be long-term, patient, but firm and vigilant containment of the Russian expansive tendencies. " The diplomat specified that this had nothing to do with "threats, loud shouting, superfluous gestures or demonstrative harshness". That would be an appropriate attitude today when dealing with China.

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