Saturday, November 9, 2019

Is Trump a Chinese Asset?

While Obama holdovers in the Trump administration are mounting a coup against the duly elected president, and while an Anonymous staffer is about to publish a book picturing Trump as an incompetent buffoon, we read a slightly different take from a senior Chinese official. That is, from Long Yongtu, a retired trade negotiator, the man who had worked on China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

One understands that former Obama staff members are bombarding us with propaganda, in an effort to keep the Obama legacy alive. Evidently, these staffers are more loyal to Obama than to the constitution of the United States. It is fair to say that we have never before seen members of the permanent bureaucracy mount an effort to destroy a current president in order to sustain the image of the prior president.

Anyway, it appears that China has warmed to Trump. It’s leaders apparently prefer Trump to his predecessor. One must remark that on Barack Obama’s last trip to Beijing the Chinese authorities refused to roll out a moving staircase to allow the president to exit Air Force 1 in a dignified and presidential fashion. Obama was obliged to exit through the plane’s own off ramp. 

China cares greatly about ceremony. A ceremonial snub of an American president means exactly what it says. China did not respect Obama.This may or may not mean that it trotted out a retired trade official to flatter Trump because it believes him to be susceptible to flattery. It may or may not mean that its trade official is telling the truth when he says that his government favors Trump’s re-election, but, whatever the reason, whatever the purpose, the statements are worth noting. The South China Morning Post reported the statements, noting that Long does not speak for his government. We take them from the Zero Hedge blog.

Speaking in Shenzhen at a Credit Suisse China Investment Conference Long said:

Specifically, Long explains that the US president's daily Twitter posts broadcast his every impulse, delight and peeve to 67 million followers around the world, making him “easy to read” and “the best choice in an opponent for negotiations.”

“Trump talks about material interests, not politics,” Long said in an interview with South China Morning Post in Shenzhen.

“Such an opponent is the best choice for negotiations.”

He continued:

Long explains that, unlike his predecessors, Trump does not pick fights with China on hot-button geopolitical issues such as Taiwan or Hong Kong, where Beijing has little room to maneuver…

“He makes the US decision-making process efficient and transparent, because he basically says what it is,” Long said of Trump.

“The pros of [having Trump] outweigh the cons. We don’t need to spend so much time figuring out what Americans want any more, or search for each other’s real thoughts in the dark, like we used to.”

SCMP concludes on an optimistic tone, noting that Long is optimistic the two countries will reach a trade resolution soon, as it is also in China’s interests to increase imports so as to become a trade superpower. 

I will note in passing that the United States Congress is poised to denounce China for what is happening in Hong Kong. That the Chinese government might prefer to deal with someone who is hard on trade issues but who does not get mired in political issues makes some sense.

After all, the George H. W. Bush administration did not confront China over the Tienanmen Square massacre. And everyone thought that the elder Bush was a competent steward of American foreign policy.

Anyway, while many of us are chagrined to see Trump being so transparent in his tweets, the government of China, being challenged on trade issues as never before, seems to welcome the Trumpian approach. Perhaps they are like a good football team that relishes a chance to compete against a worthy opponent. Playing against the best improves your game. Playing against overgrown children and self-important mediocrities makes you weak.

As noted, Long's remarks might merely be an indirection, designed to ensure that the angry American left sees Trump as a China stooge, but still, it is worth our attention.


n.n said...

Yes, of course. It is in China's best interest that the world knows the monetary, labor, and environmental arbitrage gaming of the free trade schemes. I wonder who is at greater risk if deficits are mitigated, emigration reform is realized, and rational industrial and energy policy is pursued.

Anonymous said...

Any trade agreement we make with China is useless because they don't keep agreements. I think everyone knows that. The trade agreement must have some purpose but it isn't going to be trade.

Sam L. said...

"One understands that former Obama staff members are bombarding us with propaganda, in an effort to keep the Obama legacy alive. Evidently, these staffers are more loyal to Obama than to the constitution of the United States." Obama uber alles! The US just gets leftovers from Obama. Mr. Trump outshines the one who was dubbed "the lightbringer", who surely was "light" in all his/its aspects.

UbuMaccabee said...

The Chinese refused to provide a staircase to Obama. That was brilliant. I forgot how much I enjoyed that, and how the media lying about it only made it more delicious. Good times.