Trump Improving Relations With Russia Pressures China

July 22, 2018 Updated: July 22, 2018    

News Analysis

According to a popular Chinese commentator, a possible second summit between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin would be part of a game of “wooing and swaying” among the United States, China, Russia, and Europe.

On July 17, two important summits were happening at the same time, between Trump and Putin in Helsinki and between China and Europe in Beijing. These summits took place while the trade war between the United States and China was accelerating.

According to Wen Zhao, a commentator for NTD, part of the Epoch Media Group, both the United States and China are trying to influence the other’s alliances.

In a video posted to YouTube, Wen said the relationship between the United States and Russia can hardly make much progress, at least during Trump’s first term, because the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and Europe have caused Russia to suffer a grave economic recession. Unless the sanctions are lifted or eased, the path to improved relations could be a bumpy one.

Wen said Russia is hardly a significant opponent of the United States, and so pushing Russia toward Beijing was not a wise choice. An improved relationship, on the other hand, would sway Russia away from China.

Isolating China

For Tang Hao, a commentator for the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, if the United States can win Russia’s cooperation, and sway North Korea from the communist regime in China, the situation for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will become very tough globally.

Up until now, the CCP and North Korea have been playing a two-man game, and the CCP has been trying to woo Russia to offer secret support to North Korea. If the United States could win over Russia and stop it from supporting North Korea, it would be cutting off an arm of the CCP that has been sustaining North Korea.

This, in turn, could help North Korean leader Kim Jong Un make up his mind to get closer to the United States and further away from the CCP, to create a “bright future” together with the United States, as depicted in the video Trump showed to Kim during their meeting in Singapore in June.

The United Nations offers another opportunity to move Russia. It has often voted in line with China in the United Nations to block many important resolutions. If China loses Russia’s vote, the Communist Party has a harder time challenging the West alone.

Tang also pointed out that an improved relationship between the United States and Russia would be beneficial to Europe and could ease the tensions between NATO and Russia. As a result, NATO could then focus its attention more on the threat that the CCP’s One Belt, One Road initiative poses for the region.

The United States could also gain in the trade war with China. If the trade war drags on, the CCP will eye Russia as an alternate market for its exported products, as well as a crude oil supplier. If Trump convinces Putin to act along with America, the CCP’s trade position will become more difficult.

In conclusion, Tang believes that even if Russia won’t work together with the United States at the moment, as long as communications and trust are being built up, a new international order is possible.

Common Ground

Since the trade war with the United States began, the CCP has been trying to woo Europe. For example, Germany gained trade deals worth 20 billion euros ($23.6 billion).

According to Wen, although Trump has criticized Europe harshly and vice versa, China and Europe could hardly form any sort of alliance to fight together against the United States.

For one, they wouldn’t find any common goals, nor would they reach any common stance to negotiate with the United States.

Secondly, European leaders fully understand that no matter how much they like or dislike Trump, he will only be here for, at most, another seven years. In terms of values, social systems, security, economy, and many other issues, Europe and the United States have long found common ground.

Europe has nothing to gain in helping the CCP challenge the West with totally different values and social systems. If it does, then it would not only be a nightmare for six or seven years, but would be a disaster for the century.

As if to offer some kind of proof for Wen’s point, the People’s Daily published an opinion piece on July 22 entitled “The United States Should Turn Back from Its Wrong Path of Trade War.”

The article used a tone very typical of CCP propaganda to attack the United States for imposing tariffs on Chinese goods and promised to “hit back hard and head on,” to make the United States suffer and realize that a trade war was a disaster not only for the other countries and the world, but also for the United States itself.

However, this article didn’t give any details about how China will, or can, fight back.

Regardless of who can win over who in this “wooing and swaying” game, it seems that the talks between the United States and Russia will continue.  The U.S. Department of State released a press release saying that on July 21, State Secretary Mike Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and discussed “a broad range of issues.”

Correction: A previous version of this article in a caption stated the incorrect date for the joint press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The press conference was held on July 16, 2018. The Epoch Times regrets the error.