Trump’s Advisers Struggle to Explain Deal He Says He Cut With Xi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Trump’s Advisers Struggle to Explain Deal He Says He Cut With Xi

 Updated on 
  • President hails ‘extraordinary’ dinner with Chinese leader
  • Kudlow says China made ‘commitments’ to ‘presumably implement’

President Donald Trump left his top advisers scrambling on Monday to explain a trade deal he claimed he’d struck with China to reduce tariffs on U.S. cars exported to the country — an agreement that doesn’t exist on paper and hasn’t been confirmed in Beijing.

In the day after Trump announced the deal in a two-sentence Twitter post, the White House provided no additional information. At a briefing in Beijing, a spokesman for the foreign ministry declined to comment on any changes to car tariffs.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.

45.8K people are talking about this

Questioned about the agreement on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, dialed back expectations and added qualifiers.

Larry Kudlow speaks to members of the media outside the White House.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“I’ll call them ‘commitments’ at this point, which are — commitments are not necessarily a trade deal, but it’s stuff that they’re going to look at and presumably implement,” Kudlow told reporters at an official White House briefing that followed TV interviews and informal briefings by him and Mnuchin earlier in the day.

The apparent move on auto tariffs was part of a broader trade truce struck by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a dinner in Buenos Aires on Saturday night. As part of that the U.S. said it had agreed to hold off on raising tariffs Jan. 1 while negotiations took place. Kudlow initially said that the Chinese had 90 days from Jan. 1 to come up with “structural changes” regarding intellectual property protections, forced technology transfer and other issues.

The White House later corrected him to say that the 90 days actually began on Dec. 1, Saturday.

Trump’s tweet, which moved stocks of automobile companies across the globe, followed the dinner at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. There, all sides agree, the American president agreed to postpone an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, in exchange for negotiations on broader economic disputes.

Steven Mnuchin

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“I think there is a specific understanding that we are now going to turn the agreement the two presidents had into a real agreement in the next 90 days,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Monday. “I’m taking President Xi at his word, at his commitment to President Trump. But they have to deliver on this.”

He didn’t say precisely what China committed to do.

The uncertainty underscored the risk entailed by Trump’s eagerness to strike deals without nailing down details in advance. The confusion was exacerbated by the absence of a joint statement from the U.S. and China following the dinner. Financial markets were left struggling to digest talks that the White House portrayed as a major victory for the president.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have the detailed negotiations going into the summit” and end up with the “broad swath of a 35,000-foot deal,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s risky. There’s certainly no guarantees that it will produce the outcomes that we want.”

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and members of their delegations during their bilateral meeting on Dec. 1.

Photographer: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

Officials in Beijing did not respond to requests for an explanation and neither did the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Trump nevertheless praised himself for the dinner, and abandoned nuance in claiming on Twitter that China had agreed to immediately buy more U.S. farm products, in addition to dropping car tariffs. Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC on Monday, put a $1.2 trillion price tag on China’s additional trade commitments, but emphasized the details of how they get there still need to be negotiated.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Farmers will be a a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the World, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I LOVE YOU!

35.4K people are talking about this

China imposed a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on imports of cars from the U.S. over the summer in response to Trump’s own tariffs. That’s added on top of a 15 percent tariff that Beijing charges for imports from the rest of the world, leaving U.S. auto exporters facing a 40 percent levy at the Chinese border.

In his briefing with reporters, Kudlow said he assumed that the Chinese would eventually drop their auto tariffs altogether. Such a change would have to apply to all countries under World Trade Organization rules.

“We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that,” Kudlow said, apparently contradicting Trump’s tweet on the matter. “But I will just tell you, as an involved participant, we expect those tariffs to go to zero.”

Asked why the auto tariffs weren’t mentioned in statements the U.S. and China issued after the dinner, Kudlow inexplicably insisted that they were. “I don’t agree with that,” he said.

— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece, Alyza Sebenius, and Jennifer Jacobs

(Updates with White House correcting Kudlow’s remarks, beginning in fifth paragraph.)

To Stop WW3 Do The People Need To Kill This Batch Of The Worlds So Called Leaders?

To Stop WW3 Do The People Need To Kill This Batch Of The Worlds So Called Leaders?

 

Firstoff, because of my personal Christian beliefs I cannot condone killing anyone unless you, your family, your loved ones or your Country are being attacked with deadly force. So, for anyone to walk up to another person and kill them just because you don’t like them as a person, that would make you a murderer. We are told that we are all to pray for our Leaders, executing them is something that is not in the Scriptures. But one may well say, what about other Countries Leaders, is that allowed? Are those other Countries Leaders at war with you or with your Country? That, might be a more difficult question to answer than it seems.  If we believe that another Countries Leaders are at war with your Country, does that mean that the people of that Country are at war with you also? What about the so-called Leaders of your own Country, are they at war with you and your Country’s Constitutional rights? If you believe that they are and you cannot vote them out of positions of power, is it okay to kill them? I know, so many questions, but are there any correct answers?

 

There are many very evil people who are in positions of power all over the world, and that does include here in the U.S., can we the people ever get rid of all of them? Personally I believe that the answer to that question is no we can’t. Here in the U.S. we have evil people scattered throughout both of our Nation’s major political parties, they are not all on one side. I personally believe that there are many Nations of Earth that would love to conquer and or destroy every inch of ground that we call home, yet the same can be said for every Nation on the planet. I personally believe that President Putin of Russia is a very evil human being, I believe that he is a liar, a thief and a mass murderer and that he would love to bring an end to the United States. But, I do not believe that the vast majority of the Russian people are our enemies, I believe that their own President is their biggest enemy. I believe that Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping would love to blow the U.S. off of the World Map, but I do not believe that the vast majority of their people are our enemies either. Outside of the Nations where Demonic Religious Zealots rule, I do not consider the other people of the world to be each others enemies. Outside of these Zealots, most people of the Earth tend to want the same things, peace, safety, housing, food, good health, electricity and the trash picked up off the streets each week. I believe that it is these ‘Leaders’ that cause all of the people’s ill’s.

 

A simple solution it would seem would be to simply execute these horrible self-serving Leaders and get new ones, better ones installed, but would that really work? Could we simply lock up all of these evil Leaders? Yes, we could, but would that really do us or the World any good? Here in the U.S. if we locked up Donald the Donkey Trump and all of his household except for the First Lady and Barron his 12-year-old son, we would end up having Mike Pence as our President. I have family who lives in his home State of Indiana and I have many readers from Indiana who have told me that in their opinion Pence is even more dangerous than Trump, and that in itself is a rather scary thought. Pence, just like the Republican Party in general have very much proven to be for sale to the highest bidders but do not get me wrong on this issue, I believe just as lowly of the Democratic Party Leadership. Remember in November of 2016 we the people were given the choice of two habitual lying crooks to be our President. One was very smart (Hillary) the other a total idiot (Trump), yet both still very evil. If a Nation replaces their Leaders what are the people going to get in return, more crooks, more liars, more murderers? To me, by my beliefs, all any people of any Nation can do is to pray for worldwide peace and to never ever allow any politicians to ever take away your means of protecting your families. Yet never ever be the aggressor, the murderer, because if you become a murderer, even when it is from murdering an evil Leader, you and the one you murdered will end up in Hell together and that my friend is not winning the battle between good and evil, if you lose your Soul, you lost.

The 10 Biggest Liars That I know Of Here In The U.S.

The 10 Biggest Liars That I know Of Here In The U.S.

 

Obviously this list is only my personal list and is open to everyone’s versions and interpretation.  I started to make a list of the 10 biggest habitual liars in the World then realized that most of the names were Americans. I am not the wisest person in our World, I do not know all of the bad people within every Nation so I am sure that if I made a ‘World’ list that I would be missing at least a million names on my top ten list. This list is just for the fun of it, so if you would, make your own list of habitual liars within your own Country, or the World, if you wish. Here in the South-Eastern United States us Hillbillies tend to call it a “just for the shits and grins of it’ kind of a list. I know that don’t make no sense but, this is Appalachia Kentucky after all so just ‘grin and bare it.’

(SINCE THE DEVIL HIMSELF IS THE ‘FATHER OF ALL LIARS’ THEN THESE 10 MUST HAVE BEEN ON HIS HONOR ROLL STUDENT LIST.) 

1.) Donald Trump

2.) Mike Pence

3.) Mitch McConnell

4.) Hillary Clinton

5.) Bill Clinton

6.) Nancy Pelosi

7.) George H. W. Bush

8.) Donald Trump Jr.

9.) Jared Kushner

10.) Rudy Giuliani

(OK, I GAVE INTO MY OWN THOUGHTS WHILE DOING UP THE AMERICAN TOP 10 LIST AND DECIDED TO AT LEAST  A ‘WORLD’ TOP 5 LIST. SO, HERE GOES.)

1.) President Donald Trump of the U.S.

2.) President Vladimir Putin of Russia

3.) President Xi Jinping of China

4.) President Kim Jong Un of North Korea

5.) Saudi Crown Prince  MBS

( HOW ODD: TURNS OUT TO BE PRESIDENT TRUMP AND FOUR OF HIS “GOOD FRIENDS’)

Xi Jinping And His Habitual Liars Rattles Taiwan Ahead Of Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALJAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

‘Fake news’ rattles Taiwan ahead of elections

Beijing is test-driving propaganda techniques ahead of Taiwan’s largest-ever elections on Saturday, officials say.

by

President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Taipei, Taiwan – China is spreading “fake news” via social media to swing Taiwanese voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen’s party and behind candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of elections, Taiwanese officials said.

Beijing is test-driving its techniques in Taiwan, where it has a big stake in the politics and understands the language and culture, but deployed its cyber-capacities in the United States, Australia and other democracies, the officials said.

“We received propaganda warfare coming from China for years, but this is taking a very different form,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told Al Jazeera.

“It’s coming in not from newspapers or their propaganda machine but through our social media, online chat groups, Facebook, the zombie accounts set up, somewhere, by the Chinese government.”

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Comments from Wu and other DPP officials are in line with growing global fears that authoritarian China, like Russia, is meddling in foreign elections. Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Moscow’s effort “pales in comparison” to interference from Beijing.

Beijing’s mission to the UN did not respond to Al Jazeera’s interview request, but Chinese officials have previously rejected such claims as “confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air”.

‘Orchestrate misinformation’

Taiwanese voters go to the polls on Saturday to choose mayors and others in midterm elections that will reflect the popularity of the anti-Beijing DPP and Tsai, who is expected to seek re-election in 2020.

It will be Taiwan’s largest election ever with about 19 million voters, or 83 percent of the population, casting ballots for more than 11,000 officials.

False stories can be traced to foreign servers and back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and it’s so-called “50 Cent Army” of online trolls and commentators, DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng told Al Jazeera.

They typically undermine Tsai, the DPP or Taiwan’s autonomy from the mainland, while stirring up historic grievances by which some voters support the DPP and others back its main rival, the pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT).

“The US, Australia, Germany and other countries are also addressing the issue as to how countries like Russia and China use disinformation to influence domestic and electoral politics in democracies like Taiwan,” said Lo.

“It’s a more serious problem because China is so close to Taiwan, language-wise. They don’t have the cultural or language barrier and can easily fabricate news and they know the mentality of Chinese thinking, so it’s easier for them to orchestrate this misinformation.”

DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

One story suggested that Tsai was flanked by armed soldiers when visiting flood victims in Chiayi County in August. Another said some of Taiwan’s last-remaining allied governments were about to abandon Taipei.

Another said China had bussed Taiwanese nationals to safety after typhoon Jebi killed 11 and injured thousands in Japan in September, and that Taipei had let its people down – a story that reportedly led to the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Osaka.

Ahead of voting, police arrested several suspects for malicious story-sharing but, for Wu, the focus is on Taiwan’s government to counter fake news with quick, factual corrections. For Lo, plans to tighten media laws are controversial as they could violate free speech rules.

‘Entertainment’ news

Not everyone fears Beijing’s media reach, however. Eric Huang, an independent analyst with links to the KMT, said Taiwan’s voters have high rates of internet penetration and are used to the subjective news in mainstream Taiwanese media.

“Taiwanese news agencies are very editorial and opinionated along party lines already, so the people are used to biased news. They just view this information coming from China as entertainment,” Huang told Al Jazeera.

Justin Yu, a technology investor in downtown Taipei, echoed these thoughts, saying younger Taiwanese web-users are well acquainted with the competing narratives from Taipei and Beijing.

“When we were in elementary school, we were told we shouldn’t be so close to the Chinese government. Whenever we see the information, we hesitate and question whether it is real or not. I don’t think there’s a real problem and it doesn’t influence us much,” Yu told Al Jazeera.

Shoppers buy mobile phones in the capital, Taipei, which has one of the world’s highest rates of internet penetration [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Since the 2016 election of Tsai’s pro-independence DPP, Beijing has turned the screws on Taiwan, peeling away a handful of its remaining diplomatic allies, excluding it from global forums, and forcing airlines to classify Taiwan as part of China.

Three former allies – El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso – switched their allegiances to Beijing this year, and the Chinese military has stepped up encirclement drills around Taiwan, which Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

According to DPP officials, Beijing has reached deep into the breakaway island of 23 million people, sowing division and confusion through online disinformation, recruiting business figures, and funnelling cash to pro-Beijing politicians.

De facto independence

The Republic of China – Taiwan’s official name – relocated to the island in 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists fled the mainland after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s communists. It is now a democracy with de facto independence from Beijing.

Under its “one China” policy, the Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be unified – by military force if necessary. Many analysts say China seeks to achieve the same end by flooding Taiwan with investment and buying off decision-makers.

The opposition KMT marks a continuation of Chiang’s legacy. DPP supporters typically highlight atrocities committed during Taiwan’s “white terror” and decades of martial law and call for independence from the mainland.

Last month, thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taiwan’s capital to protest against Beijing’s “bullying” and called for a referendum on whether the self-ruled island should formally split from China.

Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl

South China Sea: The world's next big war?

UPFRONT

South China Sea: The world’s next big war?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

(Reality Poem) O’ Our Leaders

O’ Our Leaders

 

Our Leaders, they sure do talk a lot

Saying nothing just an empty box

Questions they do dance around a lot

They smile and they grin but answer not

When words come out they just lied again

 

Do they tell us others are evil, just to hide their own

Xi Jinping, Putin, the Supreme Leader, Little Rocket Man

These Leaders, are they really as evil as what do we have

Trump, Pence, McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and the Clinton’s

Their all in bed together, do we the people have a chance

 

What is a true Leader, have we had one since Mr. Reagan left

The truth, the truth, if they said it, would they really succumb

Hiding in their Castles they start the wars, and our people die

Chinese, Russians, North Koreans, against their people, I’m not

The Leaders are our puppets, it appears this they have forgotten

Xi seeks to boost China-PNG relations with maiden state visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Xi seeks to boost China-PNG relations with maiden state visit

Xinhua

AFP

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill (right) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Port Moresby on November 16, 2018, ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in Port Moresby on Friday that he hopes his ongoing visit to Papua New Guinea would help boost relations between the two countries.

During the meeting with PNG Governor-General Bob Dadae, Xi pointed out that this is not only his first visit to PNG, but also the first-ever state visit by a Chinese president.

Thanking the PNG government and people for the warm reception, Xi said interactions between China and PNG go a long way back.

Since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1976, cooperation between China and PNG in various areas has witnessed fast expansion, which laid a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations, he said.

Xi said the Chinese side has attached great importance to relations with PNG, and that he hopes his ongoing visit would help boost bilateral relations, expand all-dimensional exchanges between the two countries, promote friendly communication between the peoples, and push for fruitful results in practical cooperation in a broad range of areas.

The Chinese side is staunchly committed to strengthening solidarity and cooperation with Pacific island countries including PNG, Xi said.

Extending warm welcome to the Chinese president, Dadae called the visit a rare and grand event for his country in years.

PNG and China enjoy profound friendship, he said, noting that there were Chinese traveling to and settling down in PNG more than a century ago.

PNG established diplomatic relations with China the year after its independence, he said, adding that the visit by Xi is a milestone event for bilateral relations.

The governor-general thanked the Chinese side for its precious assistance to PNG in areas concerning national development and people’s livelihood such as infrastructure construction, education and health.

He also thanked China for its great support for PNG in hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

PNG is ready to join efforts with China to lift the two countries’ relations to a higher level, he said.

Prior to the meeting, Dadae held a grand welcome ceremony in Xi’s honor in front of the national parliament house, featuring a 21-gun salute and folk dances.

Africa: Padding Bank Accounts Of A Few, Freedom Will Be Lost For A Couple Billion?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Djibouti on the Rise as Hub for Foreign Military Bases in Africa

Monday, 10 September, 2018 – 10:15
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China November 23, 2017. (Reuters)
Djibouti – Sahwqi al-Rayyes
Last year, China launched its first overseas military base in Djibouti, positioning its base only 10 kilometers away from a sophisticated US base with a crew of over 6,000 marines. France, Italy and Japan also boast bases in the neighborhood.

Situated on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti controls access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

In short, Djiboutian ports overlook waters that account for 25 percent of the world’s exports that flow into Asian and Mediterranean markets.

Since launching its military base, Beijing has not stopped displaying military ambitions on the African continent.

In late June, it hosted the first forum on security and defense cooperation between China and African countries. It lasted over three weeks and highlighted a growing Chinese presence in the continent.

The Chinese military role on the international arena has also been on the rise.

The forum, which will be held once every three years, aims to deepen China’s strategic partnership with Africa, meet mutual security and defense requirements and bolster the preparedness of its armed forces.

Beijing says Djibouti is ideally placed for China to resupply peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and combat piracy off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.

Joining the scores of military bases, Saudi Arabia is about to complete its first-ever foreign military base in Djibouti.

A base off the shores of Djibouti will reduce war costs spent by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen. The base will able to detect and intercept Iranian supplies to the Houthi militias passing through the Somali coast.

A Djiboutian defense official welcomed Saudi Arabia’s military presence in his country, saying that “brotherly relations exist between the two countries, and the military cooperation agreement is overseen by a joint committee.”

Getting approval for opening military bases is not an easy task, however.

The official told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country had previously rejected a Russian request to establish a military base “so that is not used in the conflict in Syria.”

In addition to hosting many Western military bases, Djibouti has also become a focal point for counter-terrorism activities on the African continent and the training of special forces in neighboring countries.

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:37 IST

India-China ties,Doklam,Nirmala Sitharaman
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with defence minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on August 21.(PTI Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe will hold extensive talks on Thursday, focus of which will be to remove distrust and boost coordination between the armies of the two neighbours guarding their disputed border, official sources said.

Wei arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a four-day visit, nearly three-and-half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that strategic communication between the two armies should be enhanced to avoid Doklam-like standoffs.

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

Sources said the primary objective of Wei’s visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi during the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

In the delegation level talks, the Indian side is likely to raise the issue of presence of sizeable number of Chinese troops in North Doklam.

Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region.

The two sides are likely to deliberate on a mechanism under which troops from both sides will inform each other before carrying out any patrolling on the disputed areas along the nearly 4,000-km border.

The sources said both sides will also attempt to resolve differences in setting up of a hotline between the armies of the two countries.

After the Wuhan summit, both sides revived the long-pending proposal to set up the hotline so as to avoid flare-ups along the disputed border. But, the initiative hit roadblocks over differences on issues relating to protocol and technical aspect of the hotline.

The Indian Army has been maintaining that the hotline should be between its Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and his equivalent official in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian DGMO.

The Indian Army is opposed to the Chinese proposal, insisting that an officer equivalent to Indian DGMO at PLA’s headquarters should be deputed for the communication through the hotline.

Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs.The hotline between India and China was first mooted by the two countries in 2013.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 22:23 IST

Trump’s Korea Blunder Is Worse Than It Looks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Trump’s Korea Blunder Is Worse Than It Looks

Kim Jong Un appears shrewd. China is stronger. And U.S. allies know not to trust Washington.

7
So much for gut instincts.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Donald Trump thinks he’s a great negotiator, a brilliant bluffer whose gut instincts are so stellar that ignorance of history and refusal to deal with substantive complexities are irrelevant.

That’s why he bragged he’d win the Nobel Peace Prize for his genius in getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Except, of course, it didn’t. It’s good his Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un was canceled. The larger picture in this and other major issues is how the American president is remarkably ill-prepared and uninformed.

Incredibly, he might have been outmatched in the June 12 face-off with the “little Rocket Man,” the untested North Korean tyrant. Analysts suggest Kim “has done his homework,” according to Jung Pak, a Brookings Institution scholar who was the North Korea expert at the Central Intelligence Agency and then for the director of National Intelligence. “He’s apparently well read on the issue and pretty comfortable with the technology,” she said.

Pak wasn’t surprised when Trump, after canceling the summit, said the next day that it might be back on. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim held a surprise weekend meeting. A subsequent session now seems likely.

But there’s little reason to believe a U.S. president who governs by bluster and is interested only in whether he gets credit and looks good would be better prepared for any next round. That’s unsettling.

Clearly, the North Koreans played games and were duplicitous; they always do and always are. It’s a brutal, corrupt regime.

Trump and his sycophants claim it was his toughness that scared Kim and forced him to consider negotiations; they say the president showed resolve and guts in walking away.

More likely, this has been Kim’s long-range plan for several years, as Robert Carlin, a former diplomat and intelligence official who has been to North Korea dozens of times, told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Kim effectively built up his nuclear arsenal, ignoring threats from Trump and others, and giving himself enough leverage to start to backtrack a bit. The regime supposedly dismantled one its nuclear testing sites last week.

Without question, the economic sanctions, begun under President Barack Obama and toughened by Trump, pressured this economic basket case of a country. And more important than Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric was a new South Korean administration willing to deal with its seven-decade-old enemy; a war on the peninsula would topple Kim but at a cataclysmic price.

Trump, being Trump, didn’t have the decency to give the South Koreans advance notice of his plans to cancel the summit. This is a pattern. He surprised our close ally when he impulsively announced he would meet with Kim, though no preparations had been made.

Trump’s hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, eager to sabotage any deal, raised the analogy of Libya, which gave up its nuclear weapons and later, with Western support, was toppled. Vice President Mike Pence weighed in similarly.

“Citing the Libyan example was very counterproductive,” notes Charles Armstrong, a Columbia University professor and Korean scholar. Trump’s clamor about de-nuclearization was a misnomer. Kim might make important concessions, but he’s never going to totally give up his most powerful chip; put yourself in his shoes.

Early last year Trump acknowledged, after China’s Xi Jinping had explained it to him, that the Korean situation was more complicated than he had thought. Unfortunately, the president didn’t seem to learn much, alternately crediting and blaming China for North Korea’s behavior. There is mutual contempt between these two neighbors, but they need each other, a reality reinforced by Trump’s bumbling.

History bores Trump – he seems not to know or care much – and he doesn’t read briefing books. A few months ago in the New Yorker, top aides to former national security adviser H.R.McMaster attested to the president’s shallowness. National security briefings, one former staffer said, had to be boiled down to two or three bullet points, “with the syntactical complexity of ‘See Jane run.'”

The great deal maker has yet to make even a decent deal as president; he hasn’t negotiated anything on health care, immigration or infrastructure, and the trade negotiations with China may be a bust.

In Korea, here’s what his gut instincts, with little knowledge, produced: North Korea is a greater nuclear threat than it was 17 months earlier. Kim Jong Un, depicted then as an irrational roly-poly comic-book figure with weird hair, is seen more as shrewd operative. China’s influence on the Korean peninsula and the region has grown. And as American allies, especially South Korea, painfully learned, Washington is not reliable.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Albert R. Hunt at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at [email protected]

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

China challenged Australian warships in South China Sea, reports say

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba docked at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on April 19.

(CNN)Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asserted the right of the Australian navy to travel the South China Sea, after local media reported three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese navy earlier this month.

As the three vessels traversed the hotly contested waters on their way to Vietnam, they were confronted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday.
The ABC said that one Australian defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, “insists the exchanges with the Chinese were polite, but ‘robust’.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in London for a meeting of the heads of Commonwealth nations, refused to confirm or deny the report.
“All I can say to you is that Australia asserts and practices its right to freedom of navigation throughout the world’s ocean, including the South China Sea,” he told reporters.
In a statement to CNN, the Australian Defense Department acknowledged the three vessels were in the South China Sea in recent weeks but wouldn’t comment on “operational details” on the ships.
“The Australian Defense Force has maintained a robust program of international engagement with countries in and around the South China Sea for decades,” the statement said. CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.
The Australian ships are now conducting a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
While Australian air force jets have been challenged by the Chinese in the past, this was the first time, Carl Thayer told CNN, that he’d heard of any reports of navy vessels being confronted.
“That doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred … (But) the challenge is political, it’s intimidatory and if you don’t counter challenge then China can make the argument that the international community has acceded to China’s claims,” said Thayer, regional security analyst and emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales.

Australia, China relations in deep chill

The reported confrontation comes at a moment of frosty relations between Beijing and Canberra. Turnbull admitted to the diplomatic chill on April 12.
“There has been a degree of tension in the relationship which has arisen because of criticism in China of our foreign interference laws,” he told local radio station 3AW at the time.
His remarks followed reports in local media that Australian ministers had been denied visas that would have allowed them to attend China’s signature Boao Forum in Hainan province.
The Chinese government has objected strongly to a new set of laws being considered by Australia to tackle interference by foreign nations in their politics.
Although Turnbull stressed that those laws weren’t targeted at any one country, the legislation came after a series of scandals over large donations to Australian politicians by Chinese businessmen.
“I would like to stress hereby again that we hope the Australian side will abandon the cold-war mentality and ideological bias, stop making irresponsible remarks and work with China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in February.

China tightens hold on volatile region

The South China Sea is one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. China claims a huge swathe of territory across the sea, overlapping the claims of Vietnam and the Philippines, among others.
Only last week the Chinese navy held its largest ever drills in the South China Sea, including a huge military parade overseen by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s only aircraft carrier the Liaoning took part in the display, launching J-15 fighter jets from the enormous ship’s flight deck.
Speaking from the PLA destroyer Changsha, Xi called for further modernization of China’s military to further his goal of creating a “world-class” force under the Communist Party’s leadership.
To reinforce their claims in the region, China has constructed and militarized a series of artificial islands across the South China Sea, building airfields and radar stations.
The United States regularly conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations close to China’s artificial bases. Last year, Arizona Senator John McCain suggested Australia’s Navy take part alongside the US in those exercises.
“I would not try to tell the Australians what they need to do, but there are exercises where a number of nations join together — we call it RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific Exercise]— that the Australians participate in. They’re broad naval exercises,” he said during a visit to Australia.