US President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to dramatically intensify Washington’s confrontation with Beijing across the board—diplomatically, economically and militarily—through reckless measures that risk trade war and war. His bellicose economic threats against China during the election campaign have been followed by a series of provocative tweets that have exacerbated tensions with Beijing over some of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints—Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea.
Trump’s belligerent anti-China stance is bound up with the intense conflict within the US state apparatus and political establishment over the future direction of foreign and military policy. After suffering debacles in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, the question raging in ruling circles is how to use America’s residual military might to ensure its global hegemony, and against which of its major rivals—Russia or China?
One faction is exploiting unsubstantiated allegations that Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the presidential election in Trump’s favour to greatly inflate the threat posed by Moscow and undermine the president-elect. Trump, however, speaks for a layer of the corporate, political and military elites who regard China’s rise to the world’s second largest economy as a greater danger to US interests.