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Pompeo and Changing U.S. Policy Toward China

March 19, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

U.S. foreign policy is changing. With the selection of CIA
Director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of
state, President Donald Trump appears to be taking charge of his
foreign policy. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis remain counsels of caution on many issues, but
the former’s tenure could be short, and the latter might
choose to exit if his advice has increasingly less effect.

Secretary Tillerson’s departure reflected both personality
and substance. He and the president never established personal
rapport. Last fall the secretary was reported to have called the
president a “moron,” which suggested a relationship
irreparably sundered. Moreover, the two disagreed on many, if not
most policy issues: negotiation with North Korea, nuclear agreement
with Iran, the dispute between Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates
and Qatar, Russia, climate change, and free trade.

The outcome is likely to result in several course corrections,
mostly in a more confrontational and hawkish direction. China in
particular is more likely to become a target of the administration.
That already has happened on trade, with Peter Navarro, more
nationalist than economist, pushing for a trade war against
virtually everyone, ranging from Europe and Mexico to South Korea
and the People’s Republic of China. Although Pompeo is no
protectionist, unlike Tillerson he probably won’t challenge
his boss on the issue. After the administration announced its
tariffs on aluminum and steel, Pompeo cited “trade or the
theft of intellectual property” as areas where the
administration was “pushing back against” the PRC.

Whatever the prospective
secretary thinks of China, he must work to make the relationship
work.

On both Iran and North Korea, the CIA director disdained
diplomacy. Indeed, he appeared to welcome possible regime change in
Pyongyang, in contrast to Secretary Tillerson, who denied such an
interest in an attempt to assuage North Korean concerns over giving
up the regime’s missiles and nuclear weapons.

Secretary-designate Pompeo also appears to take a harsher
attitude toward the PRC. Of course, Rex Tillerson suggested the
possibility of interdicting Chinese ships in the South China Sea
during his confirmation hearing. However, he took a more restrained
and responsible stance once in office.

Nevertheless, Pompeo starts with a negative view of Beijing.
Last year, regarding security threats, he said in one interview:
“It’s hard to pick between China, Russia and Iran to be
honest with you. I guess if I had to pick one with a nose above the
others, I’d probably pick China.” He pointed to the
PRC’s economic strength, population, and intellectual
property theft. Moreover, he said, “I think it’s very
clear when they think about their place in the world, they measure
their success …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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