U.S. President-elect Donald Trump
Just days after receiving a phone call from Taiwan’s leader, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wrote a two-part tweet aimed at China, further upsetting the most important bilateral relationship for America: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!” Trump said.
In his tweet, Trump accused China of manipulating its currency and of preparing for conflict and war in the South China Sea. Trump also seemed to suggest that China needs U.S. permission to protect its own national interest.
The U.S. cannot (and should not) try to dictate the policy of another sovereign state. Sovereignty means that China, for example, is not always going to do what the U.S. wants. Furthermore, China will never bow to U.S. pressure. International relations 101: China is an independent, sovereign state with its own national interests. As a sovereign state, China sets its own policy and can retaliate if necessary.
Trump does not seem to understand what China is doing with its currency, because he has repeatedly accused China of devaluing its currency. Many U.S. economists and currency experts agree that China is not a currency manipulator, and Chinese leaders have long insisted that market forces determine the price of the yuan. There is no solid data to suggest that current value of the yuan is being engineered. In fact, the U.S. Treasury Department has repeatedly declined to label China a currency manipulator.
China is not building a “massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea,” as Trump claimed. China wants peace and stability in the South China Sea, not tension and conflict. No doubt, China is determined and willing to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, but the claim that China is militarizing the South China Sea is completely false. The claim just shows his ignorance of China.
An irrational and hasty “get tough with China” policy would be detrimental to U.S. long-term interests. There is good reason why the China-U.S. relationship is described as one of the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Not only is the U.S. more dependent on China than Trump seems to realize, but world peace and prosperity depend on the healthy develop of China-U.S. relations. Trump needs to get the China-U.S. relationship right.