Mathew Maavak

Hardball Diplomacy: Why Trump's Show of Force Leaves Beijing Unimpressed

April 17, 2017

Hardball Diplomacy: Why Trump's Show of Force Leaves Beijing Unimpressed


By Ekaterina Blinova


The timing of Donald Trump's strike on Syria was aimed at sending a strong signal to Beijing, Malaysian geopolitical analyst Mathew Maavak told Sputnik. The geopolitical analyst explained why Trump's "hardball diplomacy" left the Chinese leadership unimpressed.


It was no coincidence that Donald Trump ordered to hit the Syrian government force's Shayrat Air Base on April 7 while hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping.


Surprisingly, Xi remained silent in response to the show of force.


"It's not known how Xi responded when Trump informed him of the missile strike, which occurred as they were finishing dinner," enterprise reporter for the McClatchy DC Bureau Stuart Leavenworth wrote last Friday.


"Afterward, Xi and other Chinese leaders seemed hesitant to respond to the missile strike," he continued, adding that "at a briefing in Beijing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered only a muted comment: 'What is imperative now is to prevent further deterioration of the situation'."


Beijing's nonchalant reaction prompted a lively debate among observers wondering what was behind Xi's silence.


"Xi can't fail to be impressed by Trump's resolve. Xi will have to reassess what the Trump presidency means for Chinese interests in East Asia, particularly North Korea and the South China Sea," Australian military analyst Alan Dupont suggested, as cited by the New York Times.


Malaysian geopolitical analyst Mathew Maavak commented on the matter in his recent interview with Sputnik.


"I think Xi must have quietly realized that Beijing now has the upper hand in its dealings with the United States," Maavak believes.


"If the intention was to intimidate China over North Korea's nuclear sabre-rattling, then Beijing will likely raise the stakes by providing an additional economic lifeline to Pyongyang," the Malaysian analyst suggested.

"Even if Trump had promised a quid pro quo in terms of tacit US recognition over Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, it won't go down well with US-friendly nations in ASEAN. Furthermore, no one would trust a US president who will attack a nation just days after proffering rapprochement, as was the case with Syria," he noted.


Indeed, a few days before the Pentagon's missile strike against Syria, the Trump administration signaled that the topping of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was by no means the White House's priority.


"There may be several overlain messages here from Trump," Maavak noted, "Trump may have wanted to impress Xi with his knowledge of China's 'hardball' negotiation tactics, and may have mistaken the serious affairs of state with pulling a poker bluff in his casino."


According to the analyst, Trump failed to give his geopolitical competitors the shivers by authorizing the Syria strike, if that was his intention.


"To attack Syria so peremptorily over specious charges — right after declaring a policy of accommodation with Damascus — reeked of a pathetic variation of Nixon's Madman Theory which was designed to intimidate geopolitical rivals with threats of irrational brinkmanship, including the nuclear option, in the late 60s and early 70s," he said.


"Trump's antics were made even more macabre by the painstakingly rehearsed Mandarin folk rendition from his grandchild before Xi and his wife. Remember, this was the man who boasted that he could 'win against China' by treating them to a McDonald's treat instead of a state dinner!" Maavak noted referring to Trump's 2015 election speech.


Maavak recalled that there were rumors that the child's mother and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump could have had cast the decisive lot to attack Syria.


"Any Chinese would have come away thinking that he was dealing with a stereotypical Western barbarian despite the requisite post-summit diplomatic politesse.  That is the real result no matter what Trump wanted to demonstrate to Xi!" Maavak believes.


For the rest of the article, please read it at Sputnik



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