US President Donald Trump is paying a four-day visit to Japan and he will again visit the country in June for the G20 summit. This shows Washington’s unprecedented respect for Tokyo. Trump only sent Vice President Mike Pence to the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea in November 2018.
Washington always calls itself a leader in the US-Japan alliance. Generally speaking, a US president wouldn’t be so attentive to Japan, not to mention that Trump has treated allies without proper respect on several occasions. The US is willing to appease Japan because of the trade war and tense China-US relations. As the US most important Asia-Pacific ally, Japan means more to the US now.
Trump wants Japan to compromise on trade, but he is very likely to fail this time. Information shows that he had to accept Japan’s requirements and not make the trade issue the priority of his current visit.
As long as China rejects bullying requests from the US, Washington is not likely to make a deal with Europe or Japan that favors the US. If China does not step back, the US will make no achievements in trade except from taxes it collects on tariffs.
Washington rashly started a strategic game with Beijing. The US wants to contain China, but has gradually put itself into a negative position. The US underestimated China’s determination for standing its ground of not compromising on issues concerning its core interests. It also underestimated how the US moves would contain its own global strategy. The US delayed imposing announced tariffs on automobiles imported from Europe and Japan, and lifted tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada. It is retreating.
Since China and the US have entered a war of attrition, the US excuses for bullying will be more ill-founded. US allies will be more interested in using the trade war to bargain with Washington, instead of helping it to suppress China. The White House will painfully understand that a trade war is a lose-lose game.
The improvement in Japan’s strategic environment is not only due to tense China-US relations, but also due to eased China-Japan relations. When China-Japan relations were tense and China-US relations were better, Japan was in a totally different position.
China’s resistance will help its neighboring countries and most countries worldwide to end US bullying.
The long game between China and the US will impose negative effects on the economies of both countries. But the US needs much more political mobilization than China. China was forced to join the war, and it has every reason to counterattack. But the US has to fabricate excuses for the war.
The US cannot afford strategic mistakes. The Afghanistan War and the Iraqi war were mistakes that consumed resources which should have been used for economic development. Instead of realizing its mistakes, Washington tries to revive the US economy by changing international trade rules and arrogantly bullying China. This can be the biggest mistake the US has made since it owned global economic hegemony after WWII.
It seems the world is spiraling into turbulence. All countries need to act prudently. They need to make as many friends as they can and avoid becoming tools of other countries. They should also cast aside illusions of using geopolitical methods to realize development goals that can’t be achieved economically.