Beyond the interludes: After the smoke has dissolved, the Chinese hawks in Washington remain the rule

Beyond the interludes: After the smoke has dissolved, the Chinese hawks in Washington remain the rule

Many controversial policies by US President Donald Trump may face stronger resistance following the country's midterm elections on Tuesday – pollsters could lead to a strong Democratic comeback – but his tough stance against China is likely to remain untouched.

Since the two largest economies started punitive tariffs on each other's exports in July, some scholars in China have speculated that Trump is facing a "blue wave" coming from the November elections, which the president calls " Referendum on me ". – would be more closely involved in partisan politics and also question its China policy.

Although the two parties are very divided in terms of immigration, medical care, fiscal and economic issues, their division into China's policies is much narrower, according to former US officials and analysts.

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"data-reactid =" 34 "> The US interim clauses are also a vote on the relationship between China and the US

"Both sides are waiting for the averages, but that will not change the relationship," said Christopher Johnson, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"I hear from too many Chinese that things will change after the split time. That's probably misinformed. "

The US midterm elections will take place on Tuesday. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate are available.

Surveys suggest that Democrats are likely to regain control of the house, though this is unlikely to be the Senate. In an interview a week ago, Representative Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Democrat, the leader of the House's minorities, said the Democrats would "win if the elections were held today".

For some Chinese scholars, the wishful thinking is that a "blue wave" in midfield – an increase of democratic victories – would affect Trump's tough stance on China.

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Although the House has only a limited influence on foreign policy, Trump welcomed the story and used it in September to support his claim that China wanted to lose the Republican Party in between.

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In Washington and Beijing, there is a veritable war of trade, the goods of the other party with punitive tariffs of up to 25 percent. Trump threatens further action. The Chinese economy is already showing signs of stress and the country's industry association has asked companies to provide feedback on the impact of tariffs.

However, there is little evidence that the Democrats would demand a softer attitude towards China. Some influential Democrats have supported tariffs on China exports since the start of Trump's trade war and have even stood behind Trump's confrontational approach to a wider range of issues with China.

In March, after the White House announced its plan to continue a trade war, Pelosi called on the Trump administration in March to "do much more to fight for American workers and products."

The tariffs were also acclaimed by Senate Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who said a more comprehensive and longer-term strategy was needed for trade with China, and Charles Schumer of New York, the minority leader of the Senate.

Even Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is a notable Trump enemy, criticized China's trade practices and human rights treatment during a visit she made in Beijing in March.

China has become an electoral issue for the first time in decades, and will remain so until 2020, said Derek Scissors, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington that has been gaining momentum over the past two years.

"China is now a US presidential election problem," said Schere. "It's about what will win the decisive votes in the next elections in the industrialized countries."

"Democratic Party presidential candidates are considering how they can take the votes of Trump from China," he said, adding that they are generally more anti-trade than Republicans.

Ryan Hass, who led China's National Security Council policy during the Obama administration, agreed that the bilateral relations under Trump were escalating into a political issue.

"The areas of the country that President Trump is most interested in winning the presidency were areas where the impact of world trade was felt and they are sensitive to China," said Hass, who now works as a foreign affairs officer for the Brookings Institution is.

There will be political pressure on presidential candidates to continue harassing China

Ryan Hass, Brookings Institute colleague

To bring China into political debates is something that Obama has tried to avoid, he added.

"He did not want to make China a big political issue. It was too important a topic to politicize the future of the United States, "said Hass.

Trump has reversed the practice and China will remain political, at least in the run-up to the 2020 election, he said.

"It will be political pressure that presidential candidates remain tough on China," said Hass. "It is a mistake to regard what is happening as a Trump phenomenon that falls away with his term."

The support of both parties was enshrined in a law introduced in September that imposed a heavy ban on Chinese telecom group ZTE Corp. if it violated an agreement with the Trump government after it was determined that the equipment would be sanctioned North Korea and Iran had been sold.

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"data-reactid =" 80 "> US Congress revised with China in mind as the US lends money to foreign development

An extension of the interinstitutional committee on foreign investment in the US economy to review mergers and acquisitions by overseas buyers also came across across the board.

Even some Midwestern Democrats were worried about the impact of the trade war on the US economy, which is cracking down on China. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, who plans to re-elect on Tuesday, described China's trade practices as "the biggest concern for us" before saying that tariffs are also creating economic difficulties for Americans.

Joe Donnelly, a Democratic Senator from Indiana who is also seeking re-election, raised questions about tariffs in July – but only after agreeing with Trump did the US "act against bad actors, including China."

The anti-China sentiment was strengthened in part by Trump's rhetoric against the Obama administration, said Johnson, the China specialist at CSIS and a former secret service employee of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He recalled the Chinese policies of previous administrations and said that he and several other former officials "shared a feeling … that somehow they fell asleep while changing".

He said that some Democrats feel that they need to be publicly expelled in the US-China dealings.

"There are many Democrats in foreign policy, national security and business who have worried that their reputation has become a hit or a jerk."

"The only way to respond is to double and look a little wilder," Johnson added. "When you interact with these individuals, they sound much more like they are the doppelgangers of the Trump administration."

Trump has repeatedly attacked the Chinese policies of previous governments, especially those of Obama. In a story the President often tells, Washington did nothing when China struck 25 percent duty on US cars during the Obama administration – though Trump said an unnamed senior Chinese official told him Beijing expected serious reprisals from Washington.

Last month, Trump beat Obama over an "impotent" policy in the dispute over the South China Sea, almost all of which Beijing claimed as territory.

Johnson said Trump's allegations against the Obama administration are not fair. However, Johnson admitted that he felt frustrated with previous governments when Washington failed to meet the "minimum requirements" for behavior.

Take, for example, 2012 Scarborough Shoal. They fully expected us to try to drive them out or at least to force them back very severely, "he said. "We have not, there were no consequences."

In early 2012, China took control of the Scarborough Shoal, a Beijing and Manila-claimed resource in the South China Sea, and deployed naval and coastguard vessels to prevent Filipino fishermen from working in nearby fishing gardens. Chinese Coast Guard ships did not leave until 2016 after a thaw in relations with Manila.

Hass rejected the view that the Obama administration has no strategy to force China to change its behavior.

"There are things, if we had the chance to do it again, we could have done it differently. We did not do everything perfectly, "he admitted. "People seem to claim that the former administrations have tried to meet behind closed doors, have nice talks with China, and ask them kindly. That's wrong. "

He said that Obama goes along with China: direct engagement with Beijing; Record number of cases against China at the World Trade Organization; and the merger of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which represented nations representing 65 percent of the global economy, to force China to raise its trade standards.

Trump has since withdrawn from the TPP.

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In October, when the Senate Democrats urged Trump for allegations of China's interference, the two sides continued to separate themselves from Trump's allegations of comparing Beijing to Moscow, with intelligence officials repeatedly stating that he had obstructed the 2016 elections.

However, concern for China's alleged influence and soft-power campaign is not only partisan.

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FBI boss declares US Congress: China poses a bigger security threat than Russia

Laura Rosenberger, former chief of staff of Tony Blinken, a deputy foreign minister under Obama, said that China's influence campaign, as well as Russia's intervention in the 2016 elections, should be considered a national security issue.

mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm "type =" text "content =" "It is really important for these threats to democracy Authoritarian interference tactics are understood by the national security community as a national security threat. "It's not just about values ​​- it's about it is about values, but also definitely about national security. "" data-reactid = "135"> "It is really important that these democratic threats of authoritarian intervention by the national security community be understood as a national security threat," she said. "It's not just about values ​​- it's about it is about values, but also definitely about national security. "

Rosenberger, who has also coordinated national security policy for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, said the US government is still not well positioned to address the issue of voter interference by a foreign nation – Russia, China or any other country to solve.

"I'm still impressed with the way many of these problems are close to our government bureaucracy," she said. "We have no structured right to understand or counteract these threats. We really need to seriously think about how we can better position ourselves. "

This article Beyond Interludes: Once the smoke has dissolved, the hawks in China will remain the rule that first appeared in the South China Morning Post in Washington

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