Voices from Russia

Monday, 17 April 2017

China Criticises Trump’s Foreign Policy… Slams Trump on North Korea


China says that Donald Trump’s threats against the DPRK are more likely to encourage its nuclear programme than to deter it. President Trump’s hopes that by ramping up talk of war with the DPRK he might force China to ramp up pressure on that country suffered a blow today in the form of a strongly critical editorial of his whole foreign policy stance in the Chinese English-language daily Global Times. As I’ve pointed up on numerous occasions, although the Global Times is nominally an independent newspaper, in reality, the People’s Daily (the official newspaper of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China) launched it. Therefore, Global Times closely reflects the actual thinking of China’s government. However, because it’s one step away from the Chinese leadership, Global Times is able to express the views of the Chinese leadership in a more forthright way than more “official” media outlets such as People’s Daily and Xinhua can. There’s no doubt therefore that the latest editorial about Donald Trump’s foreign policy in Global Times reflects the opinions of China’s leadership… both its tone and its contents are scathing. Firstly, the editorial strongly criticises the unpredictability and drift towards increasingly belligerent militarism of President Trump’s foreign policy:

In less than three months since Trump’s inauguration, the US military launched at least two strikes that grabbed the world’s attention, the first being the airstrike on a Syrian airfield, and the second being the use of the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) in Afghanistan. Trump uses military force more aggressively than Barack Obama did. He’s demonstrated a certain level of obsession and pride toward US military prowess. Even for George W Bush, who fought two wars during his presidency, every attack had to go through lengthy procedures, and starts of war were widely expected. However, the two recent attacks came rather abruptly. With this frequency and speed in use of force, Trump may go down in history as the “war president”.

The editorial then criticises the use of the MOAB in Afghanistan, calling it a “vicious weapon”. It contrasts the Trump administration’s decision to drop this bomb with Russia’s decision not to drop an even more powerful bomb… the FOAB (Father of All Bombs)… on ISIS in Syria:

The MOAB consumes a large amount of oxygen during its explosion. Because of its devastating capability, the actual probability of hurting civilians is very high. In the past, the USA killed and injured civilians in its attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. The use of the MOAB showed that Washington is turning a blind eye on civilian casualties. Clearly, this use of the MOAB has the aim of testing the weapon in real combat and provides a new gimmick in US military deterrence. Reports say that Russia has a similar device called the FOAB. Imagine how the USA and the West would react if Russia dropped that bomb on ISIS during its Syrian airstrikes. The USA seems to enjoy a privilege to do whatever it likes. To the world, this could bring more danger than security.

However, by far the most telling comments are those the editorial makes about US sabre-rattling against the DPRK. It makes crystal clear its view that this sabre-rattling… which in its opinion includes the dropping of MOAB on ISIS in Afghanistan… is completely misconceived and counterproductive:

The DPRK must have felt the shock wave travelling all the way from Afghanistan. It’d be nice if the bomb could frighten Pyongyang, but its actual impact may just be the opposite. Pyongyang’s logic in the recent years has been that, without nuclear weapons, what happened to Saddam and Gaddafi would befall its own administration. The MOAB may once again misguide Pyongyang, leading it to believe that it is crucial to upgrade its explosives. It’s been widely speculated that the DPRK is preparing for its sixth nuclear test and its leader Kim Jong-un is weighing his options is weighing his options. The message sent by the US military isn’t conducive to help Pyongyang make a reasonable decision.

In other words, far from scaring the DPRK into giving up its nuclear weapons programme, all President Trump’s threats are doing is to persuade it to pursue its nuclear weapons programme even more vigorously. This is because President Trump’s military actions show to the North Koreans the danger the USA poses to them. Although the editorial makes it clear that China strongly disapproves of the DPRK’s nuclear weapons programme… something China repeatedly and publicly said… it also shows that the Chinese think President Trump’s entire strategy towards the DPRK is completely misconceived. The tone of the editorial reveals that whatever hopes President Trump might have of scaring China into taking a firmer line with the DPRK are false. On the contrary, the Chinese… as the editorial makes clear… are barely able to conceal their anger at the reckless and dangerous actions of someone they’ve clearly come to consider an erratic and unpredictable President.

All of this was completely predictable; I wrote about it just a few days ago. We should earnestly hope that President Trump and his advisers now read the signals correctly and back off. Possibly, reports circulating in the USA that appear to contradict an earlier NBC report about the USA preparing a pre-emptive strike to forestall the next DPRK missile or nuclear test are a sign of this. I’d say that despite the denials I have little doubt that the Trump administration deliberately planted the NBC report to frighten China and the DPRK. Conceivably, having seen how it failed, Trump and his people are now backing away from it. Although events hang by a thread, I sincerely hope that’s so, and I sincerely hope also that this amateur and inexperienced President learns his lesson and comes to understand that contrary to what the Global Times editorial says, the USA does NOT “enjoy a privilege to do whatever it likes”.

16 April 2017

Alexander Mercouris

The Duran



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