Bulls and China
For a perspective on why Donald Trump might want to consider more carefully his choices on whom to speak with first, Americans could do well to consider his call with the Premier of Taiwan from a Chinese point of view. Not to condone or sanction China’s position on Taiwan, but to understand it so as not to become embroiled in a pointless diplomatic squabble whose focus, at best, would be to validate the vanity, political ignorance, and self-interest of the PEOTUS.
Given that the PEOTUS of the USA seems to be spending time on the party line with anyone who calls him these days and normalizing people we have been wary of for good reason for years — Putin, Duterte — it’s hard to find a clear example. Maybe a good way to think of this would be, say, Putin, after winning an election, speaking with the President of Puerto Rico to accept congratulations on his win and thus paving the way for future direct negotiations and direct relations between Russia/Putin and Puerto Rico. At the same time Putin’s office would choose not to speak with the sitting US President first or bother to inform the White House of its intentions, either directly or through diplomatic channels. Whatever you imagine Fox News saying about such a call is similar to how the Chinese Government will be feeling about Trump’s call with Premier Tsai Ing-wen.
I lived in Beijing for a few months and whenever a conversation about Taiwan or Tibet arose every Chinese person I spoke to considered those territories Chinese in much the same way US Citizens view Hawai’i or Alaska. This wasn’t because of a nod to political expediency, it’s something learnt at school or university and there’s no great discussion about it — it just is. Neither was there any overtly patriotic huffing and puffing, they just didn’t countenance that Taiwan could be considered not a part of China. Whether we as non-citizens of China agree with this or not, it’s the Chinese position and they are as resolute about it as Americans are about the incorporation of Oahu or Anchorage. To start a discussion about the sovereignty of Taiwan with the Chinese would be seen as meddling in their internal affairs. They’d welcome it as much as we would if Putin started questioning Puerto Rico’s sovereignty. Look to what we did over Cuba for an example of something we made earlier.
Currently China holds +/-US$1.57 trillion of Us Debt in treasury bills. If they want to yank the PEOTUS’s chain they only need threaten to sell some of this debt to devalue the dollar on the world market. It’s not in their interest to cause a global recession but given how strongly they feel about Taiwan and given that the history of China is rife with invading foreigners (The British alone forced two wars where they fought to win the right to sell heroin into China and extorted a 99 year lease on Hong Kong out of it; The Great Wall wasn’t built to keep people in), flipping the bird to protocol and diplomacy so at best the new PEOTUS can take a flattering congratulatory call or, at worst, he can make inroads into a new market for his own personal business interests, puts at risk the financial security of millions of Americans. Given that many Americans live on credit how useful would it be to have a short, year or two long creep in interest rates while the Chinese Government make a point?
And this would be for what? the satisfaction of the PEOTUS saying fuck you I don’t do what you tell me? The feeling of power an intemperate man gets from having his ass kissed or ignoring those that know better? There is a petulant clown riding that bull in the china shop and it’s our china he’s going to break. No pun intended.