FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trade for Hostages? Trump’s New Approach to China

Beijing.

There are times it is obvious the world has changed. Dallas 1963, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brexit. There are times when it is not immediately obvious. Archduke Franz Ferdindand’s driver taking a wrong turn in Sarajevo in June 1914. It is the consequences that make us realize how important the initial moment was. One such moment was last week. It was not the arrest, on a US request in Canada over alleged breaches of Iranian sanctions, of the Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou that was so significant. Nor her bail. What changed the world was the admission by the US president that she was a hostage to fortune. Trump achieved something incredible, judicial equivalency with China.

China retaliated by arresting two Canadians, not confirming exactly why except using the catch-all phrase involving “national security’’.

US President Donald Trump said that he could use his power as president to intervene in the case of Meng. Intervention, he added, might help serve the interest of US national security or enhance the prospects of a trade deal with China.

“If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” he said. Presidential interference has sent the wrong message though one they would understand in China; subordinating due process.

Beijing saw Meng’s arrest as a flagrant abuse of such a process. Detaining an individual to be used as a pawn on trade deals leaves the world a more dangerous and unpredictable place. The art of the deal? What deal worth its salt could emerge by holding someone hostage as a trade negotiation ploy.

Meng’s seizure, and the retaliatory arrest of Canadians in China, has everything to do with US-China economic rivalry and precious little to do with international law. Trump’s intervention – rebuked by the US justice department – cast an unfavorable light on the US legal system and made it look no more just than Beijing’s. The Justice Department’s top national security official last week insisted his prosecutors will not be influenced by what the White House does. “We are not a tool of trade when we bring the cases,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers told a Senate panel.

“What we do at the Justice Department is law enforcement. We don’t do trade,” he added. But a trade-off is exactly how it looks in Beijing.

Both sides appear guilty of what amounts, in effect, to hostage-taking. Breaching Iran sanctions, imposed by the US, is what Meng is being held for but the background is pertinent. Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones. It is considered an agent of the Chinese state. But is the US blameless in this regard? “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” So warned Eisenhower just before leaving the White House in January, 1961.

Hostage taking seems to be an intricate part in the art of the deal.

The archduke’s car has just taken a wrong turn. We await the consequences.

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Went On Hunger Strike and Occupied Pelosi’s Office
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
Martin Billheimer
Knight Crawlers
David Yearsley
Kanye in the West
Elliot Sperber
Dollar Store 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail