Sat, Apr 20, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Trump owes Xi tough-love letter

By Joseph Bosco

If these two leaders can make the tough decisions — Trump to stand firm across the board, Xi to lead the CCP out of the dead end it is creating for itself — they can avoid military confrontation that hardliners on both sides see as inevitable and even necessary.

If either fails in his task, the doomsday voices could be proven right.

The tough-love part of Trump’s message is that China must make the most of the concessions and policy changes needed to establish genuine cooperation, not the phony “win-win” and “strategic partners” rhetoric that has largely served only Beijing’s interests.

China is contravening virtually every international norm to pursue its stated goal of upending the international order — the very global system that has enabled its remarkable economic success.

Chinese leaders have obsessed about a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the West, but that debt has been more than paid by a half-century of massive Western investment, technical support and forbearance in the face of Chinese misdeeds.

They also rehearse the argument made by former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and others that the existing world order was put into place after World War II without China’s participation.

However, the Republic of China was a founding member of the UN and made a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a position of special power and prestige that Beijing now relishes.

China participated fully in the Dumbarton Oaks and Bretton Woods conferences, and other international meetings that established the post-war political and economic systems.

China ignores that history, but has no problem demanding certain positions, such as its absurd claim to the entire South China Sea or the obsolete notion that now-democratic Taiwan is, or has ever been, part of communist China.

Trump can tell Xi that his government needs to stop complaining about having been left out — its self-pity has worn thin and is not worthy of a rising great power, especially one that is not at all reluctant to bully smaller parties such as Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries.

It would advance the cause of peace and stability in the region if Trump would state unequivocally to Xi that Washington will defend Taiwan against any aggression from China.

It would also be the best way to preserve the two leaders’ personal friendship and make Nobel-caliber history together.

Joseph Bosco served as China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense. He is a fellow at the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies and a member of the advisory committee of the Global Taiwan Institute.

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