How Donald Trump is making China, not America, great again

Yonden Lhatoo puts the spotlight on how the US president is playing right into China’s hands, particularly in the context of the Singapore and G7 summits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 11:00pm

“Art of the deal” my foot. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor over what happened in Singapore this week.

I can understand how the cultists in tinfoil hats who worship US President Donald Trump are convinced he has saved the world through that purported denuclearisation agreement he signed with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but surely the rest of us can see past the bombast and facade.

As some eagle-eyed folks have pointed out, signing up for a humble iTunes account with Apple requires a much greater commitment to nuclear disarmament than the historic Trump-Kim accord, which merely states that North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Compare this with iTunes, which makes it clear to users that “you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons”.

Considering how much Kim and his cronies are known to love iPhones, don’t be surprised if they’ve already capitulated more to Apple than to Trump.

They can also look forward to more of the latest electronic gadgets being smuggled into their pariah country, now that Trump has stated on the record that he knows China hasn’t exactly been doing its part to enforce sanctions against Pyongyang but he’s willing to turn a blind eye to it.

Talk about China winning big, thanks to a man who is constantly pouring contempt on “losers”.

While the North Koreans offered nothing of substance to Trump – in fact they’ve conceded far more in one major accord after another since 1992, each of which collapsed – the Great Dealmaker stunned even his own people by giving away much more than anyone could have imagined.

Christmas came early for North Korea, even if the hermit kingdom doesn’t celebrate it, and China bagged the best goodies from Santa Trump’s sack without even having to hang the proverbial Yuletide stocking by the fireplace.

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By far the biggest bonanza for Beijing from the Singapore summit was Trump’s offer to halt the war games his country regularly holds with South Korea. China has sought an end to the military drills for decades, seeing them as another plank of US hegemony in its neighbourhood. Wish granted.

And, in another unexpected gift for China, the man with no plan raised the possibility of calling home nearly 30,000 American troops stationed in South Korea. You can imagine what a boost that would be for Beijing, seeing the US alienate its traditional regional allies and let China fill the vacuum to further its own strategic interests.

Speaking of undermining alliances, what happened at the G7 summit in Quebec enabled China to reap another unexpected windfall. In a nutshell, Trump threw a temper tantrum over tariffs and, toddler-like, retracted his endorsement of a joint communique with his nation’s closest allies.

Contrast that with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit hosted by China in Qingdao, where member countries discussed and agreed on trade and security like adults, unhindered by egos and petty personal politics.

How ironic that a country which has often been vilified for its own trade practices is now becoming the beacon of hope and rallying point for global trade floundering in the darkness after Trump switched off the lights.

You know those “Make America Great Again” hats that Trump and his fanatical followers like to flaunt? Perhaps it’s time to change the slogan to a more accurate “Make China Great Again”.

Don’t they make those silly things in China anyway?

Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post