The president is laying down crude remembers before his meeting with Xi, but Beijing tends to react poorly to bullying
The US announcement of a $1.42 bn arms marketing to Taiwan is a not-so-subtle reminding shot across the fores of Chinas president, Xi Jinping, who is due to meet Donald Trump for potentially tense bilateral talks at next weeks G20 summit in Hamburg. But Trumps pre-emptive ten-strike could miscarry badly.
Official confirmation of the arms auction, under consideration since January, coincided with Xis officiation at an ostentatious military ceremony in Hong Kong on Friday, celebrating Chinas reunification with what until 1997 Beijing regarded as a turncoat responsibility similar to Taiwan.
In a series of parallel, and provocative, moves, a Republican-controlled Senate committee too provisionally approved visits to Taiwan by the Japan-based US Seventh Fleet for the first time since 1979, when Washington recognised the Peoples Republic of China and borrowed a one China plan.
The decision, if used, could in effect ply a naval basi and facilities for US aircraft carriers and destroyers just off the coast of the Chinese mainland. Thats a bit like the Peoples Liberation Army building gun emplacements on Long Island.
The announcement was swiftly acclaimed in Taiwan, where many look Chinas brand-new regional assertiveness as security threats. The explanation ministry said: The ministry welcomes any kind of partnership that would enhance Taiwans national defence the capacity and drawing stability to the region.
The Senate bill also directs the Pentagon to help Taiwan develop an undersea war its programs and recommends strengthened tactical cooperation with Taipei.
Coincidentally or not, the US and Australia began their biggest ever seam military exercises on Thursday a seaborne appearance of army purposefully guided at China. The battleship exerts, committing 33,000 personnel, show heightened tensions over what Washington views as Chinese military expansionism in the South China Sea.
China has expressed scandalize over the Taiwan limbs box. The foreign ministry necessitated a stall to the sale and to military drills to escape further impairing broadly cooperative China-US relations. But Beijings overall response will depend on the outcome of the Trump-Xi meeting in Hamburg.
When he and Xi first met in April, Trump acclaimed the start of a new period. We have enormous chemistry together, he proclaimed, and dropped earlier threats to impose punishing sell tariffs and disown the one-China policy.
It transpired his main aim was to persuade Xi to take a tougher course on North koreans. He claimed to have succeeded. But the White House has been briefing in recent eras that Trump is thwarted and frustrated at tepid Chinese partnership on the Pyongyang regime.
So now US action on trade is back on the table. Again not coincidentally, the government of the united states announced farther sanctions relating to North koreans nuclear and missile programs on Thursday, targeting a Chinese bank and a shipping company.
It also pointedly criticised Chinas human rights and democracy record in Hong Kong. The US moves have triggered speculation about a brand-new slump in bilateral relations but this is probably premature. None of the latest US acts is irreversible. Trump is crudely prompting Xi of possible upshots if their talks do not produce results. But China has a record of acting severely to bullying and Trumps tactics could blow up in his face.
In Taiwan, where many in the independence-minded, ruling Democratic Progressive party feel serially bullied by Beijing, the indicators of closer American engagement could invoke false hopes and dangerously exasperate sprains with the mainland. Chinas recent success in persuading Panama to break off its diplomatic relations with Taipei, the latest example of Beijings attempts to isolate the island, was much resented.
Opinion ballots indicate an increasing proportion of younger Taiwanese, impatient with Chinese pressure to adapt the status quo, operate within the opposite direction to that which China requires: towards greater estrangement.
A recent Taiwan Brain Trust thinktank survey found that virtually 90% supported normalisation of Taiwans political status internationally, prospectively necessitating worldwide recognition of Taiwan as an independent, sovereign commonwealth.
As in Hong Kong, Taiwanese citizens increasingly feel different from China; 75% said Taiwan and China were separate commonwealths. Merely 11% backed unification. And when they view Xi and his units strutting around Victoria Harbour, who can blame them?