CONTINUING OBAMA'S PIVOT TO ASIA. Obama leaves Trump a crumbling position in the South China Sea and South-east Asia. Austin Bay explains what Trump is up to:
A month after the presidential election, U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has executed his own political "pivot to Asia."
Trump's pivot consisted of two phone calls, one with Taiwan's president and the other with the president of the Philippines.
The explicit topics discussed matter, but the critical fact is that Trump spoke with the Asian leaders. Taking the personal calls sends a diplomatic message. In Taipei and Manila, it is a message of reassurance and support. Taiwan, the Philippines and several other Asian nations confront a China pursuing increasingly militant and expansionary policies in the South China Sea and northeast Asian littoral.
Beijing had a different take on Trump's conversations -- particularly his chat with Taiwan. The Chinese government appeared to be shocked. Beijing regards Taiwan as a province of China, not a separate country. China insists on a "One China" policy. Since the U.S. recognized the Communist regime in Beijing as China's government, American presidents have deferred to Beijing's wishes and avoided overt contact with Taiwan's leaders.
Trump isn't president -- not yet. His phone calls, however, indicate he may not practice "business as usual."
Trump's decision to speak with Taiwan's president should be what I'll call an "expected surprise." Surprise is a component of Trump's "art of the deal." (Advice to Beijing: Go brush up on Sun Tzu's "Art of War.")
Frankly, China's Communist government has earned a mild shock or two, perhaps two dozen mild shocks.
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