Donald Trump claims that Mexico will pay for the boarder defences that he plans to build on his country’s southern border. Today we get a glimpse of Trump’s strategic thinking and deal making genius, that maybe, just maybe might be applied to his most noteworthy proposed building project.
A few weeks ago he caused a furore when he made a simple telephone call to the leader of Taiwan. This tiny act upset the diplomatic relations between China and the United States. Previous administrations had followed a policy of not officially recognising Taiwan as a truly independent nation. This was a wink and a nod to the Chinese claim that Taiwan is nothing more than a rebellious Chinese province, even though in every real sense Taiwan is a country like any other. Trump’s phone call implied that he would be willing to recognise Taiwan as a fully independent nation.
However, in recent remarks, President Elect Trump appears to be suggesting that the One China Policy will be left intact, but perhaps only if the Chinese make some reasonable minor concessions in trading arrangements. The subheading on an article posted today on The Guardian website makes this exact point: “President-elect also hints that Beijing will need to show good faith on trade practices for him to commit to ‘One China’ policy”
This “hint” by Trump about future US relations with China, also gives us a glimpse of Trump’s strategic thinking and deal making genius. By taking part in the telephone call he uses something that is supposedly settled, the One China Policy, disrupts it and then puts a price on returning it to a state of normality.
The costs are all on China’s side and the net benefits are all American. If the One China Policy is ended then China would lose face, something that no Chinese leader is keen to endure. It might also encourage instability in some of China’s currently “non rebellious” provinces. Trump has already resolved to adjust what he sees as unfavourable trading relations with China, what he has done now is given himself and extra bargaining chip and doing so for free. The chip doesn’t even need to be played, and probably shouldn’t be played, but nevertheless remains in play.
Trump’s One China Gambit, gives an insight into how he will make Mexico pay for “The Wall”. He has definitely mastered the art of using absolutely nothing as leverage. All I can say is that I wish that my own country had a leader with such gifts and such commitment to the national interest. But, you never know, Theresa May could still surprise us in her dealings with the EU!
Trump is showing he can play the game that China and Russia have themselves played and perfected over the years, and to do so with equal or perhaps even superior skill.