As CTH provides an overview of President Trump’s historic visit to communist China the majority of our review is toward the geopolitical aspects. China is a communist nation; many people forget that. China’s central command and control authority goals are to dominate the globe with a disposition that China is the world’s center.
Therefore the optics and presentations from Beijing contain more audiences, and more nuance, than what is customary in a state visit with a non-adversarial free society.
China, Xi Jinping and Beijing’s communist old guard, approach the U.S. presidential visit from a dynamic unfamiliar to most U.S. observers and political watchers. There are multiple audiences, internally and externally for China, being managed in this visit. Additionally, the engagement with President Trump and First-Lady Melania Trump is both cultural and political.
Despite the complexity of the dynamic it is possible to locate indicators within this controlled script that later allows us to analyze the U.S. and Chinese engagement as future events present. These important reviews of how Beijing is controlling the visit are not related to personal relationship dynamics or disrespect toward the U.S. President. The considerations are about the politics not the personality.
The personality of the participants may change; but the dynamic of the politics, the geopolitical face, presented by Beijing toward their ongoing goals and objectives, will remain constant for many years. For our endeavors, it is the dynamic of the geopolitical face that becomes more important. We are looking beyond the mask; whether it’s a panda mask or a dragon mask, it matters not. It’s always a mask. [Hope that makes sense.]
There’s no doubt President Trump and First Lady Melania will navigate the personal aspects with strength, grace and poise. In turn, and understanding the scale of the cultural control and self-discipline of the Trump’s, Beijing will never intentionally show outward disrespect. They consider President Trump a true and worthy adversary, well beyond the scale and scope of the previous administration and light-years more elevated than Hillary Clinton.
However, that doesn’t mean Beijing, and when we say “Beijing” we are specifically referencing the communist old guard (and now an empowered Xi Jinping), will not seek to control every scintilla of nuance and optic.
As the geopolitical Lion walks deliberately through Big Panda’s bamboo forest, they will seek to steer his path, and therefore seek to influence his viewpoints, holding out silent and strategic invisibility toward their larger motives and intentions.
And that’s OK, because, unlike previous administrations’, Donald Trump is an apex predator very familiar with the geographic gamesmanship amid apex predators.
Decades ago Beijing chose to use economics as a weapon. Now they are entertaining a president who is an equal in their schemes. A billionaire international businessman who has honed his skills in deals that contain the same level of competitive nuance and complexity. Traditional Chinese trickery will not work; they know this. It would also be extremely bad form, embarrassingly so, to be caught manipulating.
It is also impossible for Beijing to be caught disrespecting an economic adversary, a successful businessman – now influential politician, when they have been selling that exact image as an honorable goal for decades amid their own culture. This is what makes the timing of Donald Trump so remarkable in consequence.
However, again, Beijing will control everything. As several people noted last night the welcoming events were giving the appearance of warmth, welcoming, respectful and honorable. Yet, also transparently scripted like they are casting characters (children waving flags) for a theater production. The background spaces, beyond the camera shutters, were devoid of ordinary people.
Treeper Gaius Gracchus puts it very well:
[…] The Chinese emperors used foreign delegations to bolster domestic power and to awe the barbarians.
And it is important to view the ChiCons as the latest dynasty of China, rather than an ideology. Mao, like Chiang Kai Shek, was more like a warlord from the many conflicts of the 20s and 30s in China.
Most of his efforts were designed at control. He did try to change Chinese culture, but culture really changes slowly long term. It bounces back.
I recently read that most millionaires (90%+) in China are descendants of pre Communist wealthy families. Communism did far less to change society than should have happened.
China views itself as the Middle Kingdom, the center of the world. When the country prospers, then the rulers have the “Mandate of Heaven”, the idea that heavenly forces approve of the ruler and bless China.
When disaster and strife occur, these are signs that the Mandate of Heaven is gone.
In the 19th century, with rebellion and foreign wars, the Qing dynasty was seen as having lost the Mandate of Heaven, allowing for the birth of the republic in the early 20th century.
But what Chinese rulers have really hated, especially since the Opium Wars, was being disrespected.
President Trump has taken the exact necessary tone and posture with the Chinese. He honors them but doesn’t suck up to them. He treats them as a great competitor and adversary, as an equal or near equal.
Since WW2, the US has been the center of the world. The Chinese recognize that. As such, being treated as an equal is a huge honor.
Since Clinton, the US has been seen by China as a corrupt decaying power. Clinton was easily bribed by China and sold China important missile tech. We allowed China to pillage our economy, all in the name of selfish greed. We demonstrared over and over again our weakness, while building up China.
If Hillary had won, the Chinese were ready to assume the primary position in the world. But with Trump, they see an America reinvigorated, led by a true leader.
Trump is pushing China to act as if really has all the power it believes it has. With power comes responsibilty, and China must be willing to pressure North Korea, to control North Korea.
Trump will not suck up to China. China will treat Trump with dignity and grace. They want peace.
A multipolar world does work to keep world peace. Great Powers work together to manage issues. And China is more than willing to work with Trump.