Author: China National News
Posted:Tuesday 6th December, 2016
Unlike previous U.S. presidents, Donald Trump is adopting a far more unorthodox approach with regards to foreign policy, especially in his communication with world leaders.
Traditionally, the president-elect turns to the U.S. state department for briefings prior to conversations with world leaders.
In Trump’s case, the state department said it was contacted only after Trump had already spoken with several world leaders.
These rather freewheeling conversations are worrying diplomats at home and abroad.
He expressed his admirations for one of the world’s most durable despots, the president of Kazakhstan, and said he hoped to visit a country, Pakistan.
His conversation with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, particularly, generated the most concerns because, as press secretary Josh Earnest put it, the relationship between Sharif’s country and the United States is “quite complicated,” with disputes over issues ranging from counterterrorism to nuclear proliferation.
He also offhandedly told British Prime Minister Theresa May “If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know,” an offhand invitation that came only after he spoke to nine other leaders.
Notably, he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan with just his daughter Ivanka Trump in the room, and no state department officials present, again a completely unconventional move.
Trump-Pakistan – Impact on India
Trump’s call to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could “upset the delicate balance” of India-Pakistan ties, the New York Times said as it sounded a critical tone of him breaking decades of diplomatic practice in uncustomary calls with foreign leaders.
The president-elect’s conversation with the Pakistan PM was interpreted by some in India as an offer by the United States to mediate Pakistan’s border dispute with India in Kashmir, something that the Pakistanis have long sought and that India has long resisted.
India, thus, is readying for the possibility that the next U.S. administration will not only stay away from directly condemning Pakistan for deploying militant proxies on the Indian side of Kashmir, but that Trump may be gearing up for a return to treating Pakistan like any other U.S. major non-NATO ally.
In highly volatile South Asia, the stakes are particularly high, in view of the tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours, and while the United States’ position doesn’t directly affect tactical decision-making by Indian and Pakistani leaders on when and if to escalate, both sides do consider the likely U.S. reaction to escalation in their evaluation of the available options.
Trump-Taiwan – Impact on China
In an unprecedented break from diplomatic practice and a move that could irk China, Trump also spoke with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, becoming the first president or president-elect to speak with a Taiwanese leader since at least 1979, when Washington had severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan as part of its recognition of China.
According to those with knowledge of the talks, the telephone call was the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump’s advisers about a new strategy for engagement with Taiwan that began even before he became the Republican presidential nominee.
Some critics portrayed the move as the thoughtless blundering of a foreign policy novice, but other experts said it appeared calculated to signal a new, robust approach to relations with China.
China, meanwhile, reacted sternly to the Taiwan call, suggesting that it shows Trump’s inexperience. “I must point out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory … The ‘one China’ principle is the political foundation of China-US relations,” Bejiing’s foreign ministry spokesperson stated.
Trump responded – “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?” he asked. “I don’t think so!”
With several members of Trump’s team considered hawkish on China and friendly towards Taiwan, including incoming chief of staff Priebus, experts expect relations with China are in for a shake-up, with the president-elect setting the state for perhaps an alteration in decades of U.S. foreign policy.
Trump and the Philippines
In a conversation at the beginning of this month, Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to visit Washington, which according to the NYT, “implies the U.S. approval of his behavior, which Obama’s administration had been working to curb.”
Duterte has been accused on human rights violations during his crackdown on drugs in his country, also using abusive language against President Obama on more than one occasion.
The Philippines president also said Trump told him he was tackling the drugs problem “the right way.”
“I could sense a good rapport, an animated president-elect Trump,” he added. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”
Under Obama, the U.S. has been critical of the Philippines handling of drug dealers, including extrajudicial killings – government executions without the benefit of judicial proceedings. That has sparked Duterte’s resentment, who threatened to ditch the United States for China and Russia.
But Trump’s victory saw Duterte switch direction again. Weeks after railing against “uncivilized” Americans, Duterte greeted the U.S. president-elect with an enthusiastic “long live” Trump.
For the Philippine president, an expression of support from Trump could help reset ties with the United States. But endorsing Duterte’s crackdown may put Trump at odds with allies such as the European Union, whose parliament issued a resolution urging the Philippines to halt “extrajudicial executions and killings” in connection with the drug war.
With no political or military experience prior to assuming office, perhaps it’s time Trump gets better prepared for the monumental task ahead as he gets set to shift into the White House.