Source: Global Times
US President Donald Trump leaves a news conference on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on May 11, 2020. Photo: AFP
During US President Donald Trump’s final 10 weeks in office, he may sanction or restrict trade with more Chinese companies, government entities and officials for alleged complicity in human rights violations, or threat to US national security, senior US administration officials “with direct knowledge of the plans” told Axios, an American news website. US National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot told Axios that “future US presidents will find it politically suicidal to reverse Trump’s historic actions.”
If the Axios’ report is to be believed, then there may be two major goals behind the Trump administration’s “final madness” against China. First, Trump may want to reduce the room for Joe Biden to improve relations with China, so as to consolidate the Republican Party’s strategic containment against China. The shift in China policy is the Trump administration’s biggest “diplomatic legacy,” and they want to prevent a rebound in the China policy after they leave the office.
Second, the Trump administration may want to prepare for the 2024 presidential election. If the Biden administration follows the current path in terms of the China policy, then they will have to put more effort into China-US confrontation. It would be hard for them to focus on the COVID-19 fight, climate change and other issues that the Democratic Party attaches importance to. The new administration will continue to live in the shadow of “Trumpism.” Even if Biden makes technical adjustments to its China policy, the Republican Party can also criticize his “being weak” to China and stir up trouble in the 2022 midterm election and the 2024 presidential election.
According to US media reports and other analyses, the Trump administration is most likely to create controllable conflicts that are often reported to the public, so as to reflect their tough attitude toward China. For example, Washington is good at finding fault on human right issues. Politicians, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, may utter more ruthless and extreme words to China. Last week, Pompeo said that “Taiwan has not been a part of China,” which has broken the bottom line.
But such moves have seen a decrease in the actual impact on China due to their high frequency. China is prepared for the risks of the post-election transition of the US government. Whatever Washington does will not be an unprepared encounter for Beijing.
The Trump administration’s new attacks on China will have a weaker international impact than it did before the election, as the world already knows that the end of the Trump administration is irreversible, and it intends to make such disruptions before leaving. For these intentional playacting provocations, Beijing can just ignore them. But for those attacks that might cause real harm, China will resolutely beat back and leave them in the lurch.
The Trump administration is at its weakest no matter how tough they appear to be. The world knows that the Trump administration is going to make a mess and its support has hit its lowest level at home and abroad. Surely, we won’t provoke them or kick them when they are down. But there’s no reason to be afraid of their “final madness.”
Despite reports in the US media that the Trump administration is not going to make major moves in the Taiwan Straits in the last 10 weeks, China still needs to be cautious.
The Chinese mainland has the most adequate preparation in the Taiwan Straits, and if the US and Taiwan collude to make a sudden and unacceptable move, the Chinese mainland will firmly hit back and make them lose completely.
The US is a real tiger on the global stage, but when it comes close to China’s coastal waters and touches China’s core interests, it becomes a paper tiger. With just over two months left for the Trump administration, any attempt to flex its muscle or flaunt will receive embarrassment and humiliation. China is not a badge of honor for the US political elite to daub.