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China Already Has 'Plan B' to Cope With Trump's 'Unpredictability'

© AFP 2023 / WANG ZHAOA general view shows the skyline of a central business district in Beijing
A general view shows the skyline of a central business district in Beijing - Sputnik International
The Chinese are brilliant strategists and they have already worked out a plan B on how to deal with the "unpredictable" US President-elect Trump, Tom McGregor, Commentator and Editor at China Network Television told Radio Sputnik, adding that the selection of Iowa Gov. Branstad for US Ambassador to China sends a positive signal to Beijing.

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The issue of the future of US-Chinese relations under Donald Trump has recently attracted a great deal of attention.

Trump's criticism toward China's "military buildup" in the South China Sea and the nomination of Xi Jinping's "old friend" Terry Branstad for US Ambassador to China left some observers wondering what the "unpredictable" President-elect will do next.

However, being brilliant strategists the Chinese always have a plan B, Tom McGregor, Commentator and Editor at China Network Television (CNTV) remarked in his recent interview with Radio Sputnik.

McGregor admitted that Trump's win caught many in China by surprise.

"One year before the election I had already predicted his victory… I told my boss, I told people in Chinese media [that Trump was going to win]… People said: 'You are crazy, what are you talking about!', 'No, he's going to win!' [I responded]," McGregor recalled, adding that his colleagues were amused when his prediction came true.

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In his September interview with Sputnik McGregor stressed that, if elected, Trump would be "tough but honest" with China: "If Trump is elected to the White House, we can expect to witness more balanced, pragmatic and business-like relations between China, Russia and USA."

Commenting on Trump's foreign policy strategy toward Beijing the journalist noted that a lot depends on the US President-elect's personality.

"I'm a strong believer in psychology in the sense that you cannot change people… If you take a careful look at Trump's personality and psychology this is no different than that he has ever been before: loud mouth, probably obnoxious, not afraid to say anything… But of course right now it's a little bit dangerous," the journalist emphasized.

Referring to Trump's phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, McGregor noted that the move has shocked many in China.

In the eyes of the Chinese the US President-elect's conversation with the Taiwan leader amounted to violation of the "One China" policy.

McGregor noted that Trump wrote on Twitter that Tsai "called him."

"If he had finished at that it would have been wonderful," the journalist remarked, adding that in response to mounting criticism Trump decided to strike back.

"Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call," Trump tweeted.

To add insult to injury the US President-elect then lambasted China for what he called building "a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea."

According to the journalist, it was "not a smart move."

What is important, regardless of his harsh rhetoric Trump doesn't want a war with China, McGregor stressed.

Apparently therefore, Trump jumped at the opportunity to nominate Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who maintained close ties with China, for the position of US Ambassador to China.

© AP Photo / The Des Moines Register, Andrea MelendezChinese Vice President Xi Jinping, left, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raise their glasses at the beginning of a formal dinner in the rotunda at the Iowa Statehouse, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, left, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raise their glasses at the beginning of a formal dinner in the rotunda at the Iowa Statehouse, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.  - Sputnik International
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, left, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raise their glasses at the beginning of a formal dinner in the rotunda at the Iowa Statehouse, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.

"I think Terry Brandstad will be the kind of guy who can be the great buffer and remind Trump: 'Before you do those tweets about China could you at least ask me beforehand?'," the journalist said.

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McGregor emphasized that the South China Sea issue remains one of the most sensitive for Beijing.

"It's okay to talk trash about the trade wars, the currency wars, because the Chinese see it as simple business negotiations. But when you start taking about sensitive issues which might lead to war, you [should be] a little bit more careful," he added.

The CNTV commentator noted that Beijing has not been disheartened by Trump's election promises to return jobs to the US and impose high tariffs on Chinese goods.

"The reality is that the Chinese are very smart… One thing I've been very impressed with the Chinese is that they are brilliant strategists," McGregor told Sputnik.

Even though the Chinese believed that Trump was not going to win they came up with a plan B on what to do if Trump wins, the commentator underscored.

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"Basically, the understanding is that if there is going to be a trade war that China is not going to become more internalized, it will focus more on Chinese consumer spending rather than exports. And the fact of the matter is that the labor cost, the production cost in China is getting much more expensive. So most of the factories are moving to Southeast Asia, they are moving to Africa. For them [the Chinese] it's no big deal if there is a trade war because right now they are going to focus more on better quality products, so even if you impose tariffs on them it's going to be worth the cost to consumers everywhere around the world," he explained.

At the same time, the Chinese have to save face, the journalist highlighted.

"[Saving] face is a very big deal [in China]. If you hit me I have to hit you back. So obviously if Trump starts a trade war they have to respond… But it's not a terrible thing because they already have a plan B that even though they may respond and they are likely to respond it's not going to harm them like many people think it will," McGregor emphasized.

"They [the Chinese] have a new economy. They have a 'Silicon Valley' in Beijing in Zhongguancun area. And it's even bigger than the Silicon Valley," he added.

Commenting on the West's criticism against Russia and China over Syria in the UN and the threats to impose sanctions on nations supporting Bashar al-Assad, McGregor noted that in this issue is no longer relevant, because the Trump administration is due to take office in January.

"What impact is it going to create?" he said referring to the sanctions issue, "How is it going to impact Syria?"

According to McGregor, the Trump administration's foreign policy is likely to differ from that of Barack Obama and his European supporters.

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