Road to make America great again passes through Beijing: US expert

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The road to make America great again – as the US President-elect Donald Trump promised during his election campaign – passes through Beijing, an American expert on US-China dynamics said here on Wednesday.

Michael Pillsbury, a consultant with the US Defense Department and formerly Senior Research Advisor at US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said that there are multiple areas where the Trump administration can seek cooperation and avoid confrontation with Beijing.

“Chinese visitors say Trump should seek to make both China and America great again. Perhaps President Xi (Jinping) can meet President Trump’s requests for fair trade without violating his publicly stated opposition to protectionism. Without such progress, both sides will suffer, there will be no stable global order,” Pillsbury said at the second Raisina Dialogue here.

He said that as world’s second largest economic superpower, China “holds the key to boosting American growth”.

“Indeed, China can help us create jobs, stimulate investment and drive growth. But it requires ending China’s unfair trade prcatices and making trade compromises,” Pillsbury said.

He argued that Trump can stand up to China without sparking war.

“Trump has admired China’s negotiating skills, and has said that his best bet would be to appear ‘unpredictable’ to the Chinese. In this, he has richly succeeded so far. His tweets have created a flutter in the Chinese state media,” Pillsbury said, contending that because of the “unpredictability” of the incoming administration, there is a possibility that China may make “once unthinkable” concessions by eliminating its unfair trade practices and reducing America’s trade deficit.

“President Xi has already claimed he opposes protectionism by any nation. And so does Donald Trump,” he said.

Stressing that the risks of a global conflagration between “two of the world’s biggest and most well-armed nations are too great to consider any other alternative”, Pillsbury cited six areas in which China is excessively sensitive and the Trump administration must tread tactfully.

These include the ‘One China’ policy and America’s position towards Taiwan; Dalai Lama’s visit to White House; arms sales to India and border disputes; missile defence for South Korea,; the South China Sea; and China’s trade objectives.

“Beyond the larger question of ‘One China’, the sales of arms is another source of Chinese anxiety involving Taiwan. Taiwan now wishes to purchase our new F-35 jet fighters. By not granting Taiwan’s request, Trump would be doing China a great favour,” he said.

On arms sales to India and the border dispute, Pillsbury said that so far the US has not taken a position vis-a-vis India and China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh, despite “subtle advances” from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Whether President Trump supports India’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh and continues arms sales to India already requested by Modi, is another Chinese worry about the coming year,” he said.

Organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in collaboration with India’s External Affairs Ministry, the Raisina Dialogue examines “the prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world”.

–IANS

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