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Trump has been a great president for China. For America amid coronavirus, not so much.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

Chinese diplomacy has never been more aggressive. It has never had such sweeping objectives. It has never been served with such a sharp tongue. From threatening Australia with an economic boycott, to imprisoning Canadian citizens, to pushing the U.S. military out of the Philippines, President Xi Jinping is on the march.

“Wolf warrior diplomacy,” named for a blockbuster Chinese film in which a Chinese soldier goes on a patriotic international rampage, is the most outward sign of a new China — afraid of little and increasingly willing to test the power of its long accrued capital.

And there exists one singular accomplice of the new Chinese wolf warriors: President Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s China policy has been a gold-leaf wrapped gift to Beijing, creating space for Xi to consolidate his power domestically and expand his influence abroad. And now, as Trump seeks to deflect attention from his catastrophic failure to lead a national response to COVID-19, he is cozying up to the China hawks. Trump is hoping no one will notice that he has been the best U.S. president for Chinese interests in our nation’s short history.

 

Space to run circles around America

His disastrous China policy is, of course, centered on a bungling myopia. Trump cannot focus on any other China-related topic because of his naive pipe dream that he could persuade Xi to sign a comprehensive trade deal.

At the outset of talks, Trump strengthened Beijing’s hand by marching into a trade war alone, failing to rally a single European country to our side. This made it easy for Xi, who never had any intention of allowing Trump to force a meaningful change in China’s economic policy (especJapan and South Korea are more interested than ever in hedging their bets with China, as Trump threatens to pull troops out of both nations unless they quadruple their payments to the United States. And the wholesale abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, instead of trying to improve its terms, means that smaller nations see no meaningful economic future with the United States, leaving them little choice but to move closer to Beijing.ially the parts where Beijing subsidizes and controls industry, foreign products are excluded from China’s domestic market, and American intellectual property is stolen outright).

But Xi did manage to string Trump along while America lost 300,000 jobs and U.S. consumers paid millions in tariffs. More important, this focus gave China space to run circles around the United States in virtually every other forum outside the trade talks.

In Southeast Asia, China has never been stronger. Instead of building an alliance of friendly nations to counter China’s aspirations to control the waters of the region, Trump has pushed every single regional ally further away from us. After a 21-year military partnership with the Philippines, Chinese pressure and American neglect led to President Rodrigo Duterte kicking the United States out. Trump did effectively nothing to stop it, and a critical American foothold in the Pacific is about to vanish.

Inside and outside Asia, Trump simply watched and complained from the sidelines as China successfully built a 5G network that will allow Beijing to dominate international information networks for decades. Trump could have rallied our European partners to develop an alternative to China’s system — or at least begun the work of building alternatives to China’s next game-changing technological export, like artificial intelligence technology, advanced batteries or 6G. Instead, the Trump team’s only strategy was to bully as many countries as possible into forsaking Chinese 5G. Few listened.

 

China fills vacuums left by Trump

In international forums, the withdrawal of American influence and personnel created a vacuum that China gladly filled. The World Health Organization is the most relevant example of this phenomenon. Trump has thumbed his nose at America’s traditional leading role in fighting potential pandemics, consistently fighting for massive cuts to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the State Department. When the American seat on the WHO governing board became available, Trump just didn’t fill it. The WHO saw the writing on the wall, and when Beijing began to offer support (at the same time Trump was pulling away), the group unsurprisingly accepted the offer of a closer relationship.

Similarly, when Trump announced the United States would withdraw all funding for the United Nations Population Fund, Xi committed to funding the establishment of 100 centers for maternal and child health in the developing world.

Finally, Trump’s antipathy for human rights and democracy leadership, and general slobbering over the world’s strongman dictators, have squelched the hopes of Chinese minority groups and dissidents. Trump was tepid at best in his support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and has turned a blind eye to the detention and persecution of Uighur Muslims. This has facilitated Xi’s ascendance to quasi-dictator-for-life status.

As the president desperately grasps for alternative targets to blame for COVID-19 in the United States, Trump’s political allies have given notice that China will increasingly be in their crosshairs. And of course, China does bear serious blame for its unconscionable obfuscation of the origins of the new coronavirus.

But if Trump’s case is that his reelection is required for America to effectively stand up to China, recent history makes clear the exact opposite is true. Four more years of Trump’s disastrous China policy will likely help vault Beijing into a position of global prominence from which it may never be dislodged. If Trump wants to make China policy a centerpiece of the coming campaign, his opponents should welcome it.

17 comments

Sue Haynie May 25, 2020 at 6:26 am

Chris Murphy been a great senator for Chris Murphy, for Connecticut, not so much!

Senator Murphy visits Connecticut, he doesn’t spend most of his time here. His wife works in D.C., his kids go to school in D.C., so how often is Murphy ‘home’?

Chris Murphy is a waste of congressional representation. What has Chris Murphy done for Connecticut lately?

Steve Mann May 25, 2020 at 6:37 am

Let’s not argue the facts that affirm that the United States has been compromised on a global level as a result of eight years of Obama’s failed foreign and domestic policies, which left us as easy targets for attacks by Somali pirates, ever more aggressive Mid-east terrorist organizations, (remember the junior varsity?) widespread interference in our elections, a military that had to go to tag sales for equipment, depleted CDC stockpiles, a racially divided country,and a bill to pay for world security

Let’s focus on the fact that Senator Murphy faults the President for exercising the same nationalist “us first” polices that China has always embraced. How did the “reset” work out Chris? What a price we paid for the effort to get China and others to “like us”.

Peter Torrano May 25, 2020 at 7:39 am

Hey Murph

Did PChina’s President Xi tell you this himself? Did you actually see the movie Wolf Warrior, or are you just parroting what your friends in the Chinese Communist Party told you to say?

By the way, today is Memorial Day. Many Americans died so that you can be allowed to write a screed such as this. And not surprisingly, you mention not a word about that. As a war veteran, I say to you, you’re welcome.

David McCarthy May 25, 2020 at 8:00 am

Strange how on Memorial Day Sen Murphy can waste all of our time with his political pitch. If the president opposes China, he’s racist. If he pursues peace, he’s leaving a vacuum…and on and on…a never ending chorus.

How about the fact that the Biden family has received over a $Billion from Chinese interests through business dealings? Does this not interest the senator?

George May 25, 2020 at 10:04 am

Not a word from on this guy thanking or showing support for the members of the U.S. Military on Memorial Day weekend.
Instead we get more Trump hatred. Much like Trump’s made up ties to Russia. We know now how the Russia story much like this story how much Chris and company will make up anything that they can try to make stick.

As most of us honor the members of our Armed Services who lost there lifes on this Memorial Day we pray for those who served and those who serve today that they stay safe.

As the U.S Military members in the South China Sea and other areas in the region are conducting joint operations with many other nations on this very day Chris will want you to believe the U.S is going it alone. I bet Chris would want you thinking that a Chinese destroyer following DDG 89 was just a friendly joyride.

Chris would be better off thanking Dick Blumenthal for his service and safe return during Vietnam this weekend.

M Murray May 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

Murphy has never been about what is best for the United States and her citizens. Murphy has never been about protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. Murphy never makes the US and it’s economy the most important part of any of his decisions. The Murphy’s of the world have no desire to see the Us as the strongest, most powerful, and best nation in the world.

JustaTaxpayer May 25, 2020 at 11:06 am

Murphy, Schiff, Nadler, Pelosi. They’ve done so much for our country and state since Trump was elected. Their laser focus has produced so much good – you know, the thriving economy and low unemployment. The increased funding of black colleges and changes to the 1994 crime bill.

Connecticut, the once great state where now a glass of water with a “D” on wins the election. God bless the people of Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Soon to be Hollywood Star May 25, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Just delusional and kind of creepy…

No wonder he has been so ineffective.

John Miller May 25, 2020 at 2:17 pm

What better way to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the United State of America on Memorial Day than to have our junior US Senator write a propaganda piece on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. Did you also have China’s official state/Communist Party outlet, the Xinhua News Agency, publish it, Chris? I’ll bet the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang re-education camps would love it. I hope everyone who reads this, particularly Veterans who were willing to go into harms way on behalf of this country, will remember it in November.

Stephan Daniels May 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

I’m sorry Mr. Himes, but your world view is very out of touch. Your perspective is twisted. You are out of touch with reality because you are so caught up by political dysphoria. I believe the things you want for America are damaging and destructive to everything America stands for and has fought for. You desperately need an education, a reboot to your political and moral comprehension. Focus and listen to what’s good and right in our country. Ignore the bias of the anti-American, globalist left wing. You are on the wrong side of history.

CT-Patriot May 26, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Senator Murphy…

Some of us remember your threatening meeting with Zelensky in Ukraine. The veiled “don’t support investigation into Biden or lose US Support etc…

What about the meeting with Iranian foreign minister?

We remember very well Senator…

Time for a change to someone more ethical that’s for sure!

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