The next president will have to cope with a China increasingly truculent, aggressive, and apparently confident that its rise is taking place as the United States declines
There’s something every day. China just preempted the Hong Kong courts and prevented two elected candidates from taking their seats in the former colony’s legislature, because they modified their oath of office in a way that displeased Beijing. The day before that it was the arrest and prosecution of human rights lawyers and internet activists, or kidnapping publishers in Hong Kong and Thailand, using the infinitely flexible accusation of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” to put them away.
On a more geo-political scale, China continues to occupy the six artificial islands it developed in the disputed territories of the South China Sea, ignoring the unanimous ruling of an arbitration panel of the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference that building the islands was a violation of international law—never mind that China agreed to binding arbitration when it ratified the treaty.
Meanwhile, China’s controlled press has been lavishing praise on Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte for his moves to distance his country from the United States and to seek closer ties with China. It calls the much-heralded “pivot to Asia,” by which the Obama administration has sought to balance the increasing power of China, a “feeble” gesture. A recent article in Global Times, an English-language paper with a xenophobic tone, said that China is now too strong for the American 7th fleet to do the “rebalancing”by itself, but will have to use the 3rd Fleet as well.
“Washington seems to be quite restless with the narrowing gap between China and the US,” the paper said in an editorial.