Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton discussed President Trump’s visit to Japan and American policy in the Pacific on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM hosts Alex Marlow and Stephen K. Bannon.
“I think we are as close to the Japanese as we have been since the end of World War Two,” said Bolton. “I think the president is right on that. Shinzo Abe is a great friend of the United States. He’s been writing in op-eds in the New York Times and public statements he’s made his full support for the notion that all options are on the table, which is as close as you get to a Japanese prime minister saying he’ll support American military force if that’s necessary.”
“The president’s second stop in South Korea is more complicated,” he continued. “It’s a very divided country. The president, Moon Jae-in, takes a soft line toward North Korea, whereas the head of the opposition just a couple of weeks ago called for the United States to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. So handling the South Koreans and trying to keep them on board is a significant task.”
“The biggest meeting of the three is with Xi Jinping in Beijing,” Bolton judged. “Coming off the 19th Communist Party conference, he’s at the height of his personal power, more powerful than any Chinese leader since Mao Tse-tung. What he decides he wants to do for China with North Korea will be done.”
“I think what Trump needs to do here is say, ‘Look, we can solve this the hard way or we can solve this the easy way. The easy way is, we cooperate either to reunite the peninsula, bring down the North Korean regime, and substitute it with somebody who’s really prepared to give up nuclear weapons, or the United States is not going to leave North Korea in possession of nuclear weapons.’ That’s what Trump said in his U.N. speech in September. Denuclearization is the only way forward,” he advised.
“It’s going to be, I think, I hope, a very direct, very specific talk with Xi Jinping and see if the steps that they’ve taken that look positive, ramping up sanctions against North Korea, stick this time – or whether we’re going to see another dog and pony show where they look like they’re enforcing sanctions until our attention is diverted, then they back away. This is the biggest meeting of the trip in Beijing in a few days,” said Bolton.
Bannon asked if the Trump administration’s focus on North Korea, and the urgent need to secure Beijing’s assistance to resolve the crisis, might be obscuring “the economic war that China is running on the United States.”
“I think there is a larger, much larger, question of our overall strategy toward China,” Bolton replied. “I guess I’ve just confused the issue because unfortunately, we don’t have a strategy toward China. We have bits and pieces of strategies. Obama just didn’t think in those terms, and we’re suffering the consequences.”
“North Korea is kind of the tip of the spear, but you’ve got also China’s belligerence in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, and the fact that it has used Western economic institutions entirely to its own advantage,” he noted.
“I have to say, I remember back in 2000 during the debate over China being admitted to the World Trade Organization, and everybody said, ‘oh, they’ll come in, they’ll be pressured by these international norms, they’ll become more market-oriented, they’ll adhere to the rule of law, blah blah blah.’ I’ll confess it sounded good to me at the time. But they have simply not followed that prediction, and so what you have is a mercantilist country abusing – I won’t call the WTO a ‘free trade mechanism,’ a managed-trade mechanism – but the Chinese have just been cheating, stealing intellectual property, discriminating against foreign investors and businesses. We’ve let them get away with it,” he said.
Bolton recalled U.S. trade representative Bob Lighthizer, an old friend of his, telling an interviewer the plan is to “enforce these deals” and “make the Chinese and others live up to their commitments.”
“I don’t see how anybody can object to that,” Bolton said.
Bannon noted that China has always taken pains to show itself as a “great power,” but lately their agenda has shifted to showing they are becoming a greater power than the United States.
“There are so many people in the United States who have said for years that China is going to fit into international institutions, that it’s going to be a responsible stakeholder in global affairs, that it’s engaged in a peaceful rise. That scenario looks less and less like what’s really going on here,” Bolton said.
“The Europeans are already falling for it, to a certain extent. I think the president has got to be tough on issues like Chinese expansionism. He’s got to be tough on trade. Most importantly of all, he’s got to get his national security team to come up with a grand strategy to deal with China, which is the preeminent relationship for the United States in the 21st Century,” he advised.
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