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Under the whistle of tomahawks

How the first meeting between Trump and Si takes place - the expert's opinion is published by the portal carnegie.ru

In Xi Jinping, an impulsive demonstration of force is unlikely to make an impression, especially given that no Chinese interests, unlike Russian ones, have been affected by the blow to Syria. On the contrary, a decisive military action, beyond which there is no long-term strategy, will only confirm the emotionality and impulsiveness of its counterpart, and this is best counteracted by methodical teamwork.

Under the whistle of tomahawks
Photo: JStone / Shutterstock.com

Alexander Gabuev

Head of the program "Russia in the Asia-Pacific Region" of the Carnegie Moscow Center
"I'm not going to throw him a gala dinner. I'll take him to McDonald's, take him a hamburger and say that we need to work hard, because you can not devalue the yuan so ... Well, I'll take him a double big bag, "- bragged on Fox News in August 2015, future President Donald Trump, describing how he would have met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Barack Obama's place.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump has so often blamed China for all the troubles of the American economy that his obsession with China has become meme... Now Trump receives Xi Jinping in Florida at his villa Mar-o-Lago, where so far only the most important foreign guests have been invited (Angela Merkel, for example, Trump has not invited there), and does not even smell of any burgers there - Xi is widely accepted and Trump style, with the trademark tasteless luxury.

The meeting is really not an ordinary one: two of the most powerful people in the world meet, who will manage the most important bilateral relations on the planet in the coming years. The host of both the summit and the situation seems to be what Donald Trump looks like. After all, it was Xi Jinping who specially flew halfway across the world in order to personally meet the American president and spend a day with him. However, this is only a first impression. The PRC leader has serious cards in his hands, primarily due to the chaos in the American administration, which was skillfully used by the Chinese diplomats who were preparing the summit. "All hope is for the Chinese, they are at a meeting in Florida for the elders," veterans of the Asian policy of the former Republican administrations joke bitterly.

How did it come about that usually well-trained Americans lost the first round of a diplomatic duel with their main rival, without really having time to start it?


Autumn of the patriarch


In mid-November last year in Washington, perhaps, there was no more frustrated expatriate than Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai (崔天凯). Tsui Is one of the best Chinese diplomats of his generation. Having started his career as a simultaneous interpreter with English, he graduated from the postgraduate study at the prestigious Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, one of the forges of personnel for the State Department, worked in senior positions in the central office, was the ambassador to Japan, and in 2013, immediately after joining Xi Jinping to power, headed the diplomatic mission to the United States.

Like everyone else in China, Cui was preparing for the victory of Hillary Clinton - he knew all the key members of her team, and he knew Asian advisers and potential middle-level officials so important in the American system as family. Like any professional, he stayed away from the freaky advisers of the freaky Republican candidate, delegating communication with people like General Michael Flynn to his subordinates. Moreover, aspiring to the role Sinology Guru in the Trump team, people like Michael Pillsbury or Peter Navarro in China itself enjoy a terrible reputation. Everything changed after Trump's sudden victory, to which the ambassador was not ready. At that moment, it seemed that his colleague Sergei Kislyak was on the horse.

Beijing's first attempts to establish serious contacts with Trump's team did not succeed. Realizing that many of the people who fought around Trump's campaign are impostors and that there are no professional Sinologists in the cage for the new president, the Chinese decided to establish a dialogue with Trump's closest associates. By that time, the new president had already managed to repeat many negative statements about China, and 2 December, spoke on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Inven (蔡英文), after which Beijing worried seriously.

A week later, on the instructions of Xi Jinping, Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪), a member of the State Council and curator of China's foreign policy, flew to New York. Him conversation In the Trump Tower with key advisers to the new president, including Steven Bannon, made a very bad impression on the Americans - Emissary Xi Jinping gave them a lecture on how the US should respect the interests of China, especially on the Taiwan issue.

The next day in an interview with Fox President сказалthat the United States is not obligated to adhere to the "one China" policy. According to the stories of people who spoke with representatives of the Trump team, in Trump Tower already then they began to discuss the idea of ​​a "big China day" - a one-time announcement of the introduction of 45% tariffs on a number of Chinese goods, the sale of a large batch of weapons to Taiwan, as well as instructions to the US Treasury investigation into the manipulation of the yuan exchange rate. The lobbyists for this idea were allegedly Bannon and Navarro.

Cui Tiankai was in despair and went to seek advice from the "longtime friend of the Chinese people" Henry Kissinger. The ex-secretary of state has already visited Trump Tower and became an informal adviser to both the president himself and members of his inner circle. After listening to the guest, Kissinger silently wrote to him by hand the mobile phone of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the president, who is officially the senior adviser to the White House and enjoys Donald Trump's almost unlimited trust. This is how the Kushner-Tsui communication channel arose, which became the main line of communication between Washington and Beijing. According to Chinese diplomats and White House officials, Kushner and Cui are now constantly on the phone and can call several times a day.


Family row


Trying to reach out to the president through his family, the Chinese side made the right bet on the proximity of Jared and his wife Ivanka to the president, in contrast to non-native and newcomers to him like General Michael Flynn, exiled from the administration in disgrace. Trump is ready to entrust Kushner with the most difficult and delicate missions - for example, Jared is also the president's emissary in the Middle East and flew to Mar-o-Lago from Baghdad.

In addition, Jared China was interesting for purely commercial reasons - his family company Kushner Enterprises Led Talks with the Anbang (安邦) group, rumored to represent the interests of the Deng Xiaoping family, about investing in a complex of buildings in New York on Fifth Avenue. From the transaction recently had to refuse Due to noise in Congress and a potential conflict of interest. Nevertheless, hardly anyone will be surprised if Kushner Enterprises will soon have good projects in the PRC or generous Chinese partners.

Obviously, the star couple Jared - Ivanka China likes a long time. Their eldest daughter teaches Chinese, and even the youngest one-year-old son Joseph is already laying out turrets from cubes with hieroglyphics. The Washington Sinologists joke that it was the five-year-old Arabella Kushner who is now the chief sinologist in the US. Ivanka Descended With her at the reception at the Chinese Embassy on the occasion of the New Year on the lunar calendar, and the next day posted on her twitter a video where the girl reads a rhyme in Chinese - roller became a hit on the Chinese Internet, gaining millions of views.

Kushner Channel - Tsui proved to be extremely effective. Shortly after starting to communicate with the Chinese ambassador, Jared Kushner was able to convince his father-in-law that trying to play with China on the Taiwan issue is a bad idea, after which he assured Cui Tiankaya that the president is ready to confirm his commitment to the “one China” principle in the next telephone conversation with Xi Jinping (the conversation was immediately organized). Then the Chinese side proposed to hold a personal summit as soon as possible - and again Kouchner and Cui took over the negotiations.


By default


 When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went on a first visit to Beijing, Cui Tiankai through Kushner proposed the formulation of a joint statements with Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅), which was compiled in the spirit of Chinese diplomacy. The statement contains all the code words so important for China that imply the equal status of China and the United States, as well as America’s respect for “indigenous Chinese interests”, including territorial integrity (and therefore, it’s impossible for officials to meet, for example, the Dalai Lama or Tsai Inven) or non-interference in internal affairs.

Kissinger, with whom Tillerson dined on the eve of his flight to Beijing, also applied his hand to the statement. The language of the document caused a huge disturbance from most American Sinologists who worked in previous administrations. The consensus is that language gives symbolic power - whoever formulates the terminology to describe bilateral relations sets the tone in them, and therefore the United States should in no way agree to the Chinese language.

No less shock in Washington is caused by the very managerial structure of preparations for the summit. With the exception of Rex Tillerson, the rest of the State Department was essentially excluded from the process. In the evenings over bourbon, frustrated diplomats talk about how they wrote multi-page certificates on the eve of the summit and how they found out later that these certificates were immediately sent to the trash can. On the websites of the State Department and the Pentagon, in the places where the biographies of the deputy ministers and their assistants in Asia are posted, now it is written "vacancy". Trump's people do not trust the representatives of the special services, therefore they do not read the certificates from the CIA.

A little better situation in the National Security Council, where the role of the main Sinologist plays Senior Director for Asia and Special Assistant to the President Matthew Pottinger - the forty-three-year-old specialist is not only very young, by American standards, for such a serious position, but also has an extremely non-linear biography: he began his career as a journalist for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, then signed up in the process of a patriotic impulse in Marine Intelligence, where he served alongside General Flynn. Pottinger is one of Flynn's few men who has been asked to stay by Trump's new national security adviser, General Herbert McMaster. However, the influence of Pottinger and the entire Security Council apparatus is extremely limited - they were not included in the narrow circle of people who discussed with Trump the upcoming meeting with Xi Jinping.

Considering the asymmetry of the negotiating teams from two sides, it can be said that the American team entered the match with the Chinese not just without any bench, but even without half of the players and with the assistant head coach, who actually represents the Chinese team. But the White House is clearly not confused. There is a feeling that the people around Trump are preparing for the US-China relations the same breakthrough that Kissinger achieved in 1972, and the style of preparation for the Mar-o-Lago summit is a lot like the way Nixon and Mao prepared.


Disputes of economic entities


Unlike the Americans, the Chinese worked very systematically and methodically in preparing for the summit. Over the past two months, Washington and New York have been flooded with big businessmen, top managers of state-owned companies, officials and authoritative experts, collecting bit by bit information about Trump, his priorities, request positions and decision-making process. As a result, according to the Chinese preparing the visit, Xi Jinping arrives in Florida fully armed with all the information he needs - many negotiation scenarios have been worked out in Beijing, preparing their leader for any turn of the conversation, equipping him with the necessary numbers, arguments and specific proposals, and at the same time trying find in advance allies in the Trump team (and not only Kushner) who would seize on these proposals.

In addition to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the Chinese allies have many representatives of American business working in China and with China. Large companies have long been dissatisfied with the working conditions in the PRC and since the days of Bill Clinton have tried to use the administration to pressure Beijing to create a level playing field for competition in the Chinese market. During the Obama era, businesses were actively involved in writing an agreement to create Transpacific partnership and is still extremely disappointed that Trump refused this idea. Despite this attitude, from Sinofobic According to the views of the presidential adviser Peter Navarro, who heads the National Council of Trade, big business is horrified, and therefore has been waging a skilful apparatus struggle against it for the past two months.

The main ally of businessmen inside the White House was Kenneth Dzhaster, who took over as deputy head of the National Economic Council and assistant to President Trump on international economic affairs. Jaster is one of the most experienced republican specialists in international trade, he worked in business for many years, and during the time of Bush Sr. (in Russia he is known because he was the one who initially oversaw the issues of economic assistance to post-Soviet countries after the collapse of the USSR) and Bush Jr. served in the State Department and Deputy Minister of Trade. By background, Jaster is not a Sinologist, but he has been interested in Asia for a long time - at Harvard he studied with one of the stars of American Sinology, Professor Ezra Vogel, and then was a board member of the Asia Society for many years. In addition, his inner circle includes many of the Reagan and Bush Sinologists, with whom he constantly consults.

Inside the White House, Juster was able to build a coalition that opposed Navarro and Bannon in China, primarily on the introduction of the 45% tariff and the announcement of the PRC as a currency manipulator. Pretty soon, they dragged the entire economic team of the president, as well as Kushner and Tillerson, to their side, convincing them that the reason for the $ 300 billionth trade deficit with China now is not the undervalued yuan, and therefore the measures proposed by Navarro not only fail to correct the situation, but and prevent America from being great again. For people who are friends with numbers and economics, it was easy to do - given that even irreconcilable opponents among celebrity experts in the Chinese economy, such as Michael pattis и Huang Yukon, on this issue unexpectedly coincide.

Now the Chinese negotiators in Mar-o-Lago are left to use these arguments, and at the same time to present Trump as a gift to several large Projectsthat will help create jobs, including in the American hinterland that voted for Trump. The Chinese, according to diplomats, have a fairly large list of such projects - what is now called tweetable results in Washington slang. On the more complex issues of trade and macroeconomic policy, Xi has some homework, the essence of which boils down to a promise to continue the market reforms he announced in November 2013 while taking into account the interests of foreign companies - as befits a responsible world leader.


Do not panic

The sudden joker for Donald Trump's team was a missile strike on a Syrian airbase that the Americans launched that night. Having shown himself to be a tough guy, Trump can now try to use this reputation to convince the Chinese leader that, for example, he will not stop to strike at North Korea, if Beijing does not actively help solve the Korean nuclear issue. However, the Chinese know very well that in the North Korean case, the United States will not take risky actions - tactical conditions are too different, and Beijing was going to increase pressure on Pyongyang after the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, it remains only to present these already planned steps as the result of Trump's negotiating genius to please his ego.

Xi Jinping is unlikely to be impressed by an impulsive display of force, especially given that no Chinese interests, unlike Russian ones, are affected by a strike on Syria. On the contrary, a decisive and technical action from a military point of view, behind which there is no long-term strategy, will only confirm the emotionality and impulsiveness of his counterpart - as well as Tsai Ing-wen's call to Taiwan, the results of which were even negative for the American side. In this situation, calm and methodical work of an organized team, focused on long-term results, is the best resistance. There are far more of these weapons in the Chinese foreign policy arsenal than the Americans have Tomahawks.

Published on the portal carnegie.ru
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