By Steve Straehley, Fortune article China’s military support for President Donald Trump has been a major source of criticism in recent weeks.
The country’s foreign ministry issued a scathing condemnation of the Trump administration’s “unjust and unwarranted” escalation of tensions with North Korea, a statement that was interpreted by many as a warning shot at the United States.
But the Chinese military has been increasingly aligned with Trump, a man who has called for more engagement with China in a globalized world.
Since taking office, the president has pledged to improve relations with China and has made a series of major policy initiatives aimed at the country’s strategic interests.
In January, Trump signed a massive trade deal that has seen the U.S. ship $60 billion worth of goods to China.
And earlier this month, the administration agreed to extend a $400 billion arms deal that was a key part of a larger effort to boost military cooperation.
In the months since, however, Trump has also signaled a growing willingness to engage China, including by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Xi Jinping to address security concerns and boost defense cooperation.
The Chinese military is the largest contributor to the U,S.
military’s “Asia-Pacific Command” — a $6.4 billion force in China that coordinates the nation’s foreign policy, national security and counter-terrorism efforts.
The Chinese military’s direct support for Trump’s election campaign was widely seen as a sign that Beijing would continue to support the president, and many analysts were skeptical that Beijing could remain neutral in the upcoming administration.
As the Trump presidency approaches, however the Chinese foreign ministry is trying to distance itself from the president.
In a statement on Tuesday, the foreign ministry’s statement on the MOU said: “It is regrettable that the Chinese government is not able to fully cooperate with the U and U.K. administration on a comprehensive strategy for the region and beyond.”
China’s military has also been more aggressive in its response to the threat from North Korea.
The Pentagon recently announced that it would deploy a U.N. mission to the country, a move that the Pentagon described as a response to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
“The United States has the responsibility of providing stability to the Korean peninsula, as well as safeguarding the national security of all countries,” said the Pentagon in a statement.
“We remain firm in our commitment to North Korea’s denuclearization and have continued to support its efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.”
But China’s involvement in the North Korean crisis has come at a price: Beijing has become a major military ally for Pyongyang, which has launched missiles over Japan, and its leaders have said China has a responsibility to defend its interests in the region.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, has been critical of Trump’s administration’s response to North Korean aggression, saying in a speech in January that “China cannot do it alone.”
In March, Wang said that the U.,S.
and South Korea were facing “a very serious security dilemma,” adding: “We are the only two powers that can provide support to our neighbours.”
China has been in direct talks with the United Nations to mediate a deal that would bring the North to the negotiating table, but it has not yet taken any steps toward that goal.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) listens to U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) during a meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C., March 5, 2021.
Reuters/Yuri GripasThe U.Y.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a forum aimed at exploring common concerns and working out new cooperation strategies, is also struggling to take shape.
China’s National Security Council on Tuesday postponed a meeting scheduled for Thursday, saying the panel was “on the brink of collapse.”
China’s State Council, meanwhile, on Monday announced that the meeting had been postponed for the time being, and said the meeting was still scheduled to take place in early April.
Despite the tensions, however a new U.SA report found that China’s defense spending was still on track to surpass the United Kingdom’s as the world’s largest.