For those who have followed the months-long strategy of President Trump toward North Korea and China, the latest words from China fall squarely into place. Unfortunately for those who have not followed the approach, the consequential nuance will be lost.
What is happening publicly is entirely predictable when we accept what is happening privately, against the backdrop of activity that has taken place since February of this year.
Remember the Trumpian objective of creating the “Magnanimous Panda” as you read these latest words from Beijing:
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Reacting to remarks by North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday, China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told Reuters the escalating rhetoric between North Korea and the United States was getting too dangerous and the only solution was negotiations.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that President Donald Trump had declared war on North Korea and Pyongyang reserves the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if not in its air space.
“We want things to calm down. It’s getting too dangerous and it’s in nobody’s interest,” Liu told Reuters. “We certainly hope that (the United States and North Korea) will see that there is no other way than negotiations to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula … The alternative is a disaster.” (more)
Within the larger objective of using economics to secure U.S. national security interests, ie. “The Trump Doctrine”, we have noted and outlined the specific elements needed as President Trump pushes ownership of the DPRK toward Beijing.
China cannot win the economic battle within the narrow space President Trump has created. Specifically because the goal is to leave China no room, the latest sanctions from President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin were directed toward DPRK enablers, and not North Korea itself.
In essence the U.N. sanctions North Korea (Kim Jong-un), but Trump/Mnuchin take the sanctioning economic squeeze directly to Beijing by targeting those who do business with North Korea. The difference is very visible yet the subtlety and effectiveness of the approach is lost on most Asian observers.
China doesn’t want to own the DPRK outcome. They want plausible deniability in any confrontation. However, N-Korea is a de-facto economic province of China under the guiding control and authority of communist Beijing.
In order to create the outcome where China accepts ownership of the DPRK, and leads negotiations therein, there has to be a value for Beijing, a carrot, toward the larger international community. Considering the decades-long Chinese obfuscation of that role and responsibility, Trump needs to keep narrowing the diplomatic space until China has no options. That’s where the magnanimous panda strategy comes into play.
Trump will never use the U.S. military to solve this regional issue. The national security strategy is based on economics and diplomacy. President Trump’s words and rhetoric against Kim Jong-un, and the response from Jong-un in kind toward President Trump, creates the foundation of a need for magnanimous panda to step in.
This year Beijing is holding it’s communist party national referendum, the Communist Party Congress, mid October. This meeting happens every five years.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Central Committee’s Political Bureau (Politburo) yesterday chose 18 October for the opening of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress.
The 200-strong Central Committee is expected to ratify the date when it meets for its last plenum on 11 October.
“[The congress] will formulate an action plan and set out major policy direction that will meet the demands of the era,” the Politburo said in a statement.
The congress, which is held every five years, is expected to re-elect Xi Jinping as party general secretary for a second five-year term. Xi is likely to get his own political philosophy included in the party’s constitution, placing him on a par with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and others. (read more)
It is widely anticipated that Xi Jinping will gain more control and power over the affairs of China on economics and domestic policy.
Remember, it would be against Trump’s interests if the entire global and geopolitical community understood what was happening, as he attempts to create an outcome where China takes responsibility for North Korea.
So the question becomes, how will we know when President Trump has won in the economic and national security challenge? Well, first let’s look at the geopolitical landscape and the known and identified calendar to view the goal timeline:
♦We know President Trump is planning to attend an ASEAN meeting in November.
♦We also know that President Trump is planning to visit China later this year. Most likely that trip will be part of the ASEAN engagement.
So it makes sense that President Trump would like to conclude the outline of the economic diplomacy by the time of the ASEAN and China visit – such that: A.) President Trump can outline the agreement and stroke the panda’s ego on his turf; and B.) President Xi Jinping can announce his magnanimous victory on behalf of great Panda’s incredible achievement in providing great security to the world.
Meanwhile, just prior to the ASEAN/China meetup, President Trump’s secret weapon, Ivanka, who happens to be the most beloved American in China, is deployed to India to capture the world’s attention with Narendra Modi hugs.
President Modi is the “Trump Card” in the geopolitical economic gamesmanship. China is currently at odds with India’s rise to economic power; Ballywood is very hot in the U.S. right now; and a warm Modi – Trump economic relationship is a foil against China’s heavy-handed extortion of their economic partners.
Whoopsie sounds like the makings of a fork in China’s One Road/One Belt plan.
So, if this strategy works, and there’s every indication everything is falling into place, we can safely predict that sometime in late fall, most likely before the ASEAN visit timeline in November, President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be engaged in a new round of Six Party Talks, initiated by request of the increasingly boxed-in China.
China will structure the DPRK talking points to set up the meetings. This is a part of how China is allowed to save face, against a backdrop of Trump/Mnuchin economic pressure, and sets up the magnanimous Panda narrative.
The six party talks will be essentially a Marshall Plan of sorts for North Korea.
Japan, South Korea, The United States, China, Russia and North Korea will enter into a set of negotiations publicly sold as engaging in diplomacy and reducing tension. That tension is what President Trump is currently stimulating to keep the pressure on Beijing ahead of the Communist Congress.
With success, President Trump (or T-Rex) will sit on the patio complimenting Xi Jinping (or deputy), and Russian, Japanese and South Korean emissaries.
Meanwhile, well behind the scenes, in the conference room, Secretary Wilbur Ross, USTR Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will play the role of Willy Wonka handing out the golden economic tickets to representatives who all line up with their requests for terms of economic discussion.
President Trump’s golf partner Shinzo Abe will already have his ticket, but he’ll play along. South Korea and partnered ASEAN nations will also see a benefit. The only real negotiations will be between the U.S. Russia and China. Russia will be negotiating for higher regional energy prices to get their GDP growing again (affluence) and increase their geopolitical influence; While China will be negotiating to retain as much of the $350 billion trade surplus as possible, and retain their one-road/one-belt viability.
The end result will be Kim Jong-un giving up his nuclear ambitions for good; China accepts responsibility to denuclearize under carefully negotiated terms, and against the backdrop of economic punishment for duplicity, and publicly Big Panda promises to the world to be the magnanimous insurance policy therein.
Everything between now and that outcome is optically chaff and countermeasures.
♦SHORT TERM – When the denuclearization terms are finalized; only then will President Trump outline the broad parameters of a U.S./China trade relationship based on new renegotiated trade policies. The mood of that stage within the strategy will be based on the cooperative behavior of China in the next 60 days.
♦MEDIUM TERM – Also, when Trump gets to that latter stage, China will be facing a different global economic landscape because President Trump and India’s Prime-Minister Modi have already formulated the outlines of a joint economic partnership.
♦LONG TERM – Economic leverage against communist China to remove the larger geopolitical threat they represent to the U.S. (and the international community) is gained by positioning India as a replacement for U.S. trade/commerce, and ASEAN partners as continental benefactors, with favorable access to the U.S. market, within bi-lateral trade deals.
Readers will note this bi-lateral strategic approach, in economic depth and breadth, also significantly reduces the internal economic benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) amid partner nations. That diluted outcome is not accidental.