Markets are reeling from Trump’s declaration via Twitter that tariffs will be increased from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
This is happening in the same week in which U.S. Navy destroyers sailed near islands in the South China Sea claimed by China, and as the Pentagon published the 2019 China Military Report.
The report says China is building an army capable of global intervention and accuses China of conducting espionage in order to accumulate military knowledge.
Actual Chinese foreign policy, however, is currently focused not on the United States, but westwards towards Central Asia and Europe as part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR). China has one offshore military base in Djibouti and the One Belt, One Road Initiative will place another in Pakistan.
“What’s happening is that China is finally going global,” Richard Sakwa told The Real News Network’s Sharmini Peries.
“[China] is leveraging its growing economic power into a network of relationships which are spanning not just Eurasia all the way to Europe, but also in Africa.”
Sakwa noted that while China is now developing a second military base, the United States has approximately 600 military bases around the world:
“China is challenging not so much U.S. primacy but the way that it has managed it in the past, which is an almost exclusive sense that the United States is the global leader. Well, those days are beginning to come to an end.”
Peries added that Chinese-Russo relations are expanding. Russian President Vladimir Putin was recently invited to be the guest of honour at a recent OBOR forum, and at many of the sessions, Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping entered the sessions together.
It speaks to a nuanced and limited alliance one much of the West underestimates.
“The Russo-Chinese alignment is not an alliance, and it’s not a bloc, and it’s certainly not a military alliance. But Russo-Chinese alignment is far deeper and far more extensive than many Westerners have yet caught on,” Sakwa said.
“It’s an alignment in which Russia and China will not do each other any harm. They will support each other when it’s in their interests and it’s a game changer.”
Meanwhile, U.S. relations with China are deteriorating. Sakwa explained that neither China or Russia will be provoked by U.S. “saber-rattling.”
As is typical, he said, the current situation is a Trump miscalculation based on his tendency to go into negotiations heavy-handed and hope a deal works out, which has massively failed due to his tariff tweets.
“I’m not sure that the policymakers in Washington have fully come to terms with the way that the geo-tectonics at the global level are changing, and the One Belt, One Road initiative is the prime example of that,” Sakwa said.