The Chinese state propaganda outlet Global Times is urging China’s military to amass more nuclear weapons in response to Donald Trump’s election to the American presidency, after a week of sharply worded editorials predicting a war if Trump confronts the nation’s communist government.
“Trump obviously considers China a cash cow. There have been voices in the West that want China to do more since the US deemed that China took a free ride on US efforts to maintain world order,” a Global Times column published Thursday reads. “In this case, the best China can do is to return an eye for an eye.”
While President-elect Trump has issued stern words against China on its colonization of the South China Sea and shown a warm disposition towards the pro-independence government of Taiwan, the author of the Times column appears most concerned with Trump’s repeated assertions that China’s unfair trade practices must come to an end. For this, the author recommends building more nuclear weapons.
“China won’t pay into Trump’s protection racket. It should use the money to build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile,” the article reads. “China’s military spending in 2017 should be augmented significantly.”
The article makes clear that China should prepare not only to fight the United States, but Taiwan, which has long relied on America for military assistance: “We need to get better prepared militarily regarding the Taiwan question to ensure that those who advocate Taiwan’s independence will be punished, and take precautions in case of US provocations in the South China Sea.”
Last week, Trump accepted a routine congratulatory call from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan. China took the conversation as an implicit acceptance of Tsai’s status as a fellow head of state and, thus, acceptance of Taiwan as a sovereign nation.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry is still issuing outraged statements about the call a week later. “The U.S. side should cautiously handle the issue and not to turn back the wheels of history, so as to avoid disturbance to the China-U.S. relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Friday. “China’s stance is consistent and clear, and well known to the international community.”
China’s state-run propaganda mills did appear somewhat placated by Trump’s choice of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as U.S. ambassador to China. A Trump spokesman touted Branstad as “someone who has a lot of experience and great grasp of trade issues, agriculture issues, has a tremendous understanding of China and Chinese people.”
“He was referred to as an ‘old friend’ of China by the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday,” the Global Times wrote of Branstad following the announcement of his appointment. “His nomination at this time has indicated a lot,” the publication noted, adding that even tensions on other issues with Trump are “eased somewhat by the Branstad nomination.”
The People’s Daily, another Chinese state-run publication, did not appear as placated with Branstad as the Global Times (which, while complimentary towards Branstad, is still calling for further nuclear armament). The People’s Daily notes Trump’s “lack of political, diplomatic and military experience, as well as his poor understanding of China-U.S. ties” while dismissing any combative tweets from the President-elect as part of America’s “two-sided China policy.”
President Xi Jinping has personally refrained from anything but a conciliatory tone towards Trump. Following a conversation with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Xi said in a statement that he anticipated “sustained, stable and better growth of U.S.-China relations” during the Trump administration. The Global Times, meanwhile, urged the Chinese military to be “both mentally and physically prepared” for conflict.