Every blowhard bully runs the risk of some thing, some event that can gore his credibility. That something for Donald Trump in his bombastic threats against North Korea is China.
Trump rode to power on brash pronouncements of how he was going to put ChYna in its place. America wouldn't be putting up with any more games from Beijing. No sirree. Trump's supporters, the Gullibillies, lapped it up. They couldn't get enough of it.
Talk is cheap. Donald Trump talk is cheaper still. It's not president Xi Jinping who is kowtowing these days. That era is over.
Not since the British garrison at Singapore surrendered to Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in 1942 has Western opinion of an Asian power changed so fast. When China’s 2015 stock market bubble popped, prevailing Western opinion held that China’s economic boom would flame out in a debt crisis comparable to America’s subprime disaster of 2008 or the near collapse of Europe’s southern tier in 2013.
Now that China’s tradeable stock market has risen by 43% during 2017 in US dollar terms (with the MSCI-based ETF as a benchmark), Western opinion is melting up.
It will shock Americans who have been told for years that China merely copies Western technology by stealing trade secrets, and for that reason alone Prof. Allison’s book fairly might be called the most influential book of the year.
In the three and a half decades since Ronald Reagan became president, by the best measurement of economic performance, China has soared from 10 percent the size of the US to 60 percent in 2007, 100 percent in 2014, and 115 percent today. If the current trend continues, China’s economy will be a full 50 percent larger than that of the US by 2023. By 2040 it could be nearly three times as large. That would mean a China with triple America’s resources to use in influencing outcomes in international relations. Such gross economic, political, and military advantages would create a globe beyond anything American policymakers can now imagine.
Suddenly, from the South China Sea to the Bosporus, the United States cannot move without brushing up against Chinese influence, if not outright Chinese power. It’s not quite the same as Yamashita’s march across the Malaysian jungle. But if anything, the fecklessness, complacency and incompetence of America’s leaders exceeds the fabled stupidity of the British at Singapore.
Trump waved the threat of unilateral action against North Korea at the UN this morning but everyone, save for the Gullibillies, knew he was just blowing smoke. China will not tolerate that sort of conflict chaos on their border. They certainly will not tolerate the use of even tactical nuclear weapons on their doorstep.
The sun is setting on American hegemony in Asia. Even Trump may realize it eventually.