Mar-a-Lago Summit Overshadowed by Syria Strikes

Miniature American and Chinese flags on a table at the Pentagon in Washington DC, August 23, 2012
Miniature American and Chinese flags on a table at the Pentagon in Washington DC, August 23, 2012 (DoD/Glenn Fawcett)

The recent summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping was unprecedented in its fashion and noteworthy in several respects.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was an unusual venue for the first meeting between the two most powerful men on the planet. Barack Obama’s summits with the Chinese president were more formal.

The summit was expected to shed light on the policies of both leaders toward various smoldering issues: North Korea, Taiwan, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Sino-American trade relations. Read more

For Europe, China Has Become the Lesser of Evils

Night falls in Beijing, China, September 12, 2012
Night falls in Beijing, China, September 12, 2012 (Jens Schott Knudsen)

Donald Trump’s disinterest in the transatlantic alliance, and Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine it, have left Europe with little choice but to turn the world’s fourth center of power: China.

The two aren’t natural allies. The EU has long irked the Chinese with its lectures on democracy and human rights. The EU insists on dealing through multilateral institutions when China would prefer to throw its weight around in bilateral talks.

But the world’s second and third economies are condemned to work together in the era of “America First”. Read more

China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump

Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, pose for photos with Li Keqiang, the prime minister of China, in Beijing, July 12, 2016
Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, pose for photos with Li Keqiang, the prime minister of China, in Beijing, July 12, 2016 (European Commission/Enzo Zucchi)

China and the European Union are stepping up their cooperation in the era of Donald Trump.

Reuters reports that the two are keen on a summit in the next few months in order to promote free trade and international cooperation.

For the Chinese, it’s about sending a sending a message to Washington that it has friends in Europe.

The Europeans seek Chinese support for international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, which Trump has chided. Read more

Remember Trump’s “One China” Threat? It Was a Stupid Bluff

American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6
American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

Remember when Donald Trump, then newly elected, accepted a phone call from the president of Taiwan and his apologists told us it was all part of a masterplan? If it meant revising the “One China” policy, they said, well, maybe that needed revising anyway? Who’s China to say which countries America can and cannot recognize!

My interpretation was that Trump was simply ignorant of the sensitivities of Sino-Americans relations and had blundered his way into a diplomatic incident.

Trump’s first phone call with the president of China, Xi Jinping, supports that contention. Read more

Uncertainty in China as Trump Takes Office

Men stare across the bay of Shanghai, China, April 10, 2010
Men stare across the bay of Shanghai, China, April 10, 2010 (Ying Tang)

This weekend, more than a billion Chinese will gather with their families to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rooster. It is a lively tradition, the biggest family celebration in the year and, like New Year’s Eve in the West, it breathes the magic of the new.

But with the inauguration of the new American president, Donald Trump, it is even more unpredictable what this new year will bring. Read more

World Upside Down: China Defends Globalization from America

President Xi Jinping of China attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17
President Xi Jinping of China attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

Chinese president Xi Jinping defended globalization in an address to the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, likening the world’s interconnectedness to a “big ocean that you cannot escape from.”

Xi didn’t mention Donald Trump, but his speech sounded like a warning to the incoming American president.

“Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one’s self in a dark room,” Xi said: “Wind and rain might be kept outside but so are light and air.” Read more

2016 in Geopolitical Review

American president Barack Obama listens to a briefing in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington DC, March 23, 2012
American president Barack Obama listens to a briefing in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington DC, March 23, 2012 (White House/Pete Souza)

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who liked 2016. Just about every safe assumption about the future was challenged. To top the year off, the United States even abstained from a veto on the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements, rewriting at the last moment the relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv. It has been a roller coaster, but what has it all meant? Read more