President Donald Trump has become the new China’s “greatest enemy” in the Asia-Pacific region, writes National Review’s John Bolton.
Trump’s “Greater India” policy and China’s assertive maritime claims over much of the South China Sea have made the world’s third-largest economy the new “Greatest Enemy.”
But Bolton says this doesn’t mean China is out of the race.
He points out that China has also been seeking to expand its footprint in the Pacific and that it is doing so with a mix of military and economic power.
“The Chinese are pursuing a strategy of a much more assertive and aggressive military posture, and their desire to expand their influence has been driven in part by their desire for a greater economic presence in the region,” Bolton wrote.
“Their approach has not been to try to ‘carpet bomb’ the region; rather, they have sought to take advantage of a lack of consensus around the issue of China’s territorial claims and assertive actions in the South and East China Seas.”
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua news agency on February 14, 2017, Chinese military ships pass in the East China Sea, near Scarborough Shoal, south of China, the Philippines.
China has sent ships into the sea in recent months, as it has expanded its naval presence in disputed areas, including the disputed South China Seas, which have been the focus of international tensions.
“China’s approach to its expanding maritime footprint in disputed waters has been to use the ‘Greatest India’ strategy to expand the size of its military presence in those disputed waters, as well as to use its economic clout to seek to gain access to those waters,” Bolton writes.
“Its strategy is based on the assumption that, if it can gain access, it will be able to gain greater control of the Indian Ocean.”
“The United States is clearly not going to let that happen,” Bolton says.
“If we do, it won’t be China, but Russia or China, will be the one that gets hurt.”
Bolton says that Trump’s new policy of “Greating India” will create “an even more aggressive and aggressive posture by China” and will be a “danger to America’s allies, especially its Asian allies, in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
The Trump administration has not explicitly said whether it intends to move forward with the South Asian pivot or will seek to maintain that posture with other countries in the Asian region, Bolton said.
“It’s going to take a concerted effort by the administration to convince other countries to put their money where their mouths are in a much larger way,” Bolton said, noting that Trump has made his intention clear on the issue.
“I think the President has already indicated he wants to move in a very aggressive and assertively, but very small-scale way.
We’re going to have to see what his strategy is going to be,” Bolton added.
Bolsons article comes as the United States, India, and China prepare to hold a new summit this week in Beijing, to focus on the “pivot” to the Asia Pacific.
The U.S. and India will convene for the summit after Trump was in Beijing on Friday, and Trump will participate in the summit, which will be held in the capital, Beijing.