Why Asian Countries Don’t Want to Choose Between China or US
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump's talks in Mar-a-Lago will be closely watched by China's neighbors in Asia. The deputy director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University, Andrei Karneyev, spoke to Sputnik about this development.
According to Karneyev any scenario regarding the development of Sino-US relations directly affects the interests of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The first personal meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump can lead not only to reformation of Sino-US relations, but it can also cause profound changes in the Asia-Pacific region,” the analyst said.
Most of all, judging by an article published in the South China Morning Post, Asian countries are concerned that the US leadership in the Asia-Pacific region can become a subject of deals during the summit.
Karneyev said that some believe that if Xi Jinping makes serious concessions in the field of trade or agrees to massive investments in US infrastructure, Trump may promise to reduce support for allies and reduce US presence in the Asia-Pacific region especially in the sensitive region of the South China Sea.
However, the very “forced preparation of the summit” indicates that the Chinese leadership was seriously concerned about possible sharp actions of Trump against China.
The analyst noted that the key question is: How dramatically will the rules of the game change globally under Trump and in relations with the US’ main competitor and partner — China.
“China and the United States are so interconnected economically that the strengthening of political and military tensions would inevitably affect the sphere of their trade,” Karneyev said.
He further said that military tensions could result in an unfavorable turn both both parties, as it could lead to economic problems in both countries and in the end, “contradict Trump's promise to improve the stability of the American economy, making America strong,” the analyst said.
So, positive discussion is therefore possible, although many doubt that it will have a deep and strategic character because any serious political concessions to Trump can be perceived and will be perceived in the region as a sign of American weakness or as another break in the system of US military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.
“They will be perceived negatively by US conservatives who have already criticized Secretary of State Tillerson. In their view, the head of the State Department actually spoke in a ‘Chinese voice’ during his visit to Beijing. He was repeating famous Chinese political formulas about Sino-US relations,” Karneyev said.
He also noted that the current policy of the new US administration has not formed the concrete direction it wants to take with China. In fact, so far it is just an improvisation of a narrow circle of advisers.
“At the same time, the government experts on China are isolated from the decision-making process. All this increases the chances that the parties cannot agree on a two-day meeting in Mar-a-Lago and this too will be a headache for China's neighbors in the region,” the analyst said.
Nevertheless, the failure of the summit will cause no less concern. The strengthening of Sino-US confrontation will inevitably affect the interests of APR countries as it will force them to choose between China and the US.
“Of course, they would not like it, as it would be ideal for them to preserve the status quo — when the preservation of the US role as a guarantor of security is combined with a rapid development of economic cooperation with China,” the analyst concluded.