Trump's speech: Should a different agreement replace INF?
Updated 17:05, 06-Feb-2019
The World Today
On February 5, U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address in which he addressed a range of issues. On matters concerning China, there were two worthy of special attention.
One of them concerns the status of the landmark Cold-War treaty, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which the U.S. announced its withdrawal from last week despite widespread opposition. China has a stake in seeing the U.S. stay within the treaty.
Trump suggested that a different agreement should be negotiated to allow parties other than the U.S. and Russia, such as China, to join.
Responding to this, Xu Qingduo, senior researcher at Pangoal Institution, a China-based public think tank, said the INF treaty is a bilateral treaty to which China is not a signatory. Moreover, he believes that China's developing its weapons stems from its need to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and integrity and thus should not cause concern.
Another issue is with regard to trade disputes with China where Trump adopted his old rhetoric, accusing the country of unfair trade practices and demanding a structural change of its economy.
Commenting on the issue, Xu pointed out that there might soon be a new round of trade talks between China and the U.S., even though Chinese people are only being cautiously optimistic about the outcome.
Regarding a series of demands put forward to China by the U.S., Xu said that while addressing some of them is consistent with China's internal need to deepen its reform and further open up its economy, discussing some others is, however, out of the question.
When asked about the overall impression of Trump's speech, Tristan Brown, a lawyer at Stinson Leonard Street, said that to his surprise the speech was very “ordinary.” He said that for someone like Trump who oftentimes derives his joy from making news, delivering such an address that seems to have only featured American heroes and him claiming credit for economic development and laying out his agenda is nothing but ordinary.
Xu's interpretation of the speech, however, is that Trump is gearing up for the next election as he took credit for things like the economy and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada. And as for his heavy focus on the border wall, Xu believes that was an effort intended to galvanize his political base.
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