Feb 07, 2018
The Pangoal Institution International Situation Monthly (Vol.10)
The Pangoal Institution International Situation Monthly (Vol.10)

Pangoal Institution

International Situation Monthly

January 2018 (Vol.10)


Korean Peninsula Situation Development

Davos World Economic Forum

Appraisal of Trump’s First Year as President

Iran’s Street Protests and Enlightenment 

At the beginning of 2018, NorthKorean leader Kim Jong-un delivered his New Year’s Day address. In addition to asserting the country’s success in possessing nuclear weapons and its determination to become a nuclear power, Kim sent “positive” signals in two aspects: efforts will be further diverted to economic development in terms ofdomestic policies; and measures will be taken to improve relations with South Korea, with Kim offering talks regarding a joint delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

North Korea’s strategic choices were made out of three considerations: first, to implement the dual strategic line of driving both economic and nuclear advancement with moreefforts in economic construction; second, to break through international sanctions; and third, to reach out to the US through South Korea and thus begin a direct dialogue.

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in quickly and enthusiastically accepted the olive branch. As soon as January2nd, the Moon administration convened a state council meeting and instructed “relevant sectors to establish working level measures,” in order to bring North Korean athletes to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics arena. Moon also noted that Kim Jong-un’s remarks were a response to South Korea’s proposal to turn the Pyeongchang Olympic Games into a groundbreaking chance to improve South-North relations.

On January 9th, North and South Korea held high-level talks in Seoul. The two sides earnestly discussed the matterof North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games andParalympic Winter Games, and issues surrounding improving inter-Korean relations in accordance with the hopes and expectations of the Korean people,and eventually reached an agreement. On January 17th, vice ministers from both sides opened working-level talks at the “Peace House” on the South Korean side of Panmunjom regarding key details associated with the North’s planto join the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, and the talks reached a great amount of consensus. North and South Korea have confirmed that they would field a joint women’s ice hockey team and will march under a pro-unification flag at next month’s Winter Olympics.

In a phonecall between Seoul and Washington on January 4th, the two heads ofstate agreed to delay joint military drills until after the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games. Trump also expressed his support of inter-Korean high-level talks.

The Moon administration, by completing such acts, intends to formally launch its Korean Peninsula Peace Initiative, and to steer the development on the Korean Peninsula towards cross-border cooperation and reconciliation, and towards a process dominated bythe Koreans themselves, in case South Korea becomes “cannon fodder” under the NorthKorea-US military confrontation.

Earlier, in November 2017, the Moon administration, in accordance with the comprehensive initiative to address inter-Korean relations, peace and unification, and the new economic map, formally released its Korean Peninsula Peace Initiative, which includes policy background, policy prospects, three goals, four strategies, and five principles.

Thanks to these factors, tensions appear to be thawing on the Korean Peninsula during the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games. In relief, the international community is still concerned about whether the détente can be sustained in the days after the sports events, and whether the inter-Korean dialogues can lever a fundamental ease in tension.

Though the US has expressed support for the reestablishment of inter-Korean dialogues over the Pyeongchang Olympic WinterGames, it showed no intention of letting up on the “maximum pressure” policyagainst North Korea. Before the opening of the dialogues, the US imposed restrictions on South Korea and demanded that it forsake discussions about issues other than the Winter Olympics. And during the dialogues, the US announced that it has deployed three strategic B-2 stealth bombers in Guam.

On January 16th, the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula was jointly convened by the US and Canada. Altogether 20 countries attended the meeting, and 17 of them were nations that were allies with the US in fighting the Northin the 1950s’ KoreanWar as the “United Nations Command.” The attendees exchanged views on cutting the supply of commodities and petroleum to North Korea, and considered enforcing a maritime blockade against exported goods.

On January 24th, the US Department of Treasury announced sanctions on nine entities, two Chinese companies included, 16 overseas members of Korean Workers Party (KWP), and six vessels. All sanction targets were allegedly helping North Korea’s weapons development.

In setting sanctions, the Trump administration has four basic considerations. First, after a series of nuclear missile tests and with certain nuclear capabilities proven in the process, North Korea is movingfaster toward the Trump administration’s “red line,” and it is about to approach the critical point at which nuclear weapons are combined with missiles. As such, there must be no step back in containing North Korea.

Secondly, the “maximum pressure” policy has proven itself effective. The international blockade has sentenced North Korean economy and its people’s livelihood to a harder period. But thecountry is still working to reform from within.

Thirdly, China and Russia are reserved in pressuring North Korea, with some cards hidden up their sleeves.

Fourthly, the US, domestically,is politically incapable of compromising or bargaining with North Korea.

The Trump administration views the North Korean nuclear issue as its paramount challengein the Asia-Pacific Region. Currently, US policies towards North Korea aredominated by the military. Assistant to the President for National SecurityAffairs, Herbert McMaster, takes a tough stance on the issue, and the Secretary of Defense John Mattis advocates for bold military deterrence on North Koreabut remains cautious in starting a war.

Even from the perspective of North and South Korea, there are many restrictions for are conciliation. North Korea, watching the US closely, refuses to talk aboutdenuclearization with South Korea. Furthermore, as Moon Jae-in appears eager to promulgate policies for a bilateral reconciliation, the domestic old guard hasalready back-lashed. Still, economic and humanitarian assistance, which can be promised andprovided to North Korea bypassing UN Security Council sanctions, remainslimited.

The fact that North Korea has promised to stop nuclear missile activities during the Winter Olympics, and the US and South Korea have promised to halt joint military exercises shows the feasibility of the “suspension-for-suspension” initiative for the time period.However, according to South Korean press, the US and South Korea are considering restarting a two-month joint exercise on April 1st after the Winter Paralympics. The “Foal Eagle” is scheduled to be held from April 1stto May 30th; and the crisis management and control training in the preliminary stage of the “Key Resolve” exercise will start on April 18th, followed by aformal drill from April 23rd to May 4th. 

At present, it’s stilluncertain how long this tension easing tendency can be sustained. The proactive efforts of all parties are required, so that opportunities can be seized andthus conditions created for the resumption of multilateral talks. 

As a direct participant in the Korean Peninsula issue, China took a clear stance andacknowledged recent progress in inter-Korean relations. Chinese President XiJinping, at request, had a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-inon January 11th. Xi stressed that China hopes that “the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will not only bring about opportunities for the dialogue between the ROK and DPRK, but also become a beginning of the improvement of theKorean Peninsula situation. China is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with all sides, including the ROK, to strive for further positive results of the situation.”

Then on January 16th, President Xi Jinping held telephone talks at requestwith the US President Donald Trump. Xi noted that all parties concerned shouldmake joint effort to sustain this hard-earned momentum of easing-up, for thatis necessary to create conditions for negotiation resumption.

Will it be possible for the situation on the Korean Peninsula to change for the better in Spring 2018? It’s still hard to say at the moment. No matter in what circumstances, the aspiration for peach should be respected and encouraged. All the world needs to do is to keep eyes open wide, so as to see who will promote peaceful settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue, and who will bring the situation back tocrisis. 

The 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) was held from January 23rd to 26th, 2018 in Davos, Switzerland.

The day before its annual meeting, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report, announcing arevision in forecasted global economic growth to 3.9 percent for both 2018 and 2019, a 0.2 percentage point change from its last update in October 2017, and raised the outlook for global growth for 2017 to 3.7 percent. This would be the most substantial annual growth since 2011, and would send major economies onto thesame development track.

One of the highlights in Davos this year is China’s contribution to boosting confidence in global economic growth.

Liu He, incumbent member of the Central Committee Political Bureau of Communist Party of China, and director ofthe Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, attended the forum this year, and delivered a special speech on China’s economic policy. He briefed participants on the top-level planning in China’s economic policy for the next few years, and noted that the policy centers around “a Key Necessity,” “a Main Task,” and “Three Critical Battles.” The Key Necessity implies that China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase ofrapid growth to one of high-quality development; the Main Task is to advancesupply-side structural reform; and the Three Critical Battles which China isdetermined to fight include: preventing and resolving major risks, conducting targeted poverty reduction, and controlling pollution, thus fixing the shortest plank in national development in accordance with Cannikin Law and building China into a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Mr. Liu stressed that this yearmarks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy, which is the very reason behind China’s robust growth over the past fourdecades and will remain the key driving force to quality growth in the future. On this grand occasion, China is ready to adopt more vigorous reform andopening-up measures, and some may even go beyond expectations of theinternational community. 

“China will continue to let themarket play a decisive role in resources allocation, and we must focus on better protection of property rights, especially intellectual property rights.We will fully incentivize entrepreneurs, encourage competition, and oppose monopolies. We will continue to improve the mechanisms for macroeconomicregulation. We will open wider to the world across the board. To be specific, we will further integrate with international trade rules and ease market access. We will also substantially open up the services sector, the financialsector in particular, and create a more attractive investment environment. We believe that to sustain economic growth, there must be open and inclusive institutional arrangements as well as orderly and free flow of production factors. We will encourage both inbound and outbound investment and business activities, as we seek greater economic and trade interactions with other countries and work with them toward an open world economy.”

Though the global economy is generally recovering, the international community remains worried about global economic divides. As the first international forum in 2018, the WEF, once again, put the question of whether to advance globalization or not to all attendees, as can be seen from its theme: Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.

For the first time since theworld has entered the second decade of the 21st century, aside fromfocusing on mounting debts, asset bubbles, protectionism, and other risksfacing the world, attendees at Davos went beyond economic problems, andexpressed deep concerns about the world’s return to geopolitical rivalry, terrorist attacks, escalation of regional hotspot issues, and even the potential outbreak of war.

The theme of WEF 2018 corresponds highly with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s significant proposals atlast year’s forum, including building a community with a shared future formankind and promoting the re-balance of economic globalization, which fully demonstrates President Xi’s personal charisma and powerful influence, and the leading role he plays in forming ideologies, propositions, and plans tostreng then global governance.

The US President Donald Trump attended the forum and made a closing speech. This was the first time since 2000 that the US President had attended in Davos, with the last being formerPresident Clinton.

American mass media remarkedthat, there are mainly two reasons for Trump to attend this year’s economic forum: to flaunt his “achievements” during the first year in presidency, and torespond to the pressure posed by the rising China. 

Trump touted his administration’s performance in his speech, claiming that “Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs, and your investments to the United States.” He tried to justify his “America First” policy by explaining that “America first does not mean America alone.” Trump also stated that “when the United States grows, so does the world”; “As the United States pursues domestic reforms to unleash jobsand growth, we are also working to reform the international trading system so that it promotes broadly shared prosperity and rewards to those who play by the rules”; and “We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal.”

As Trump implicitly expressed, the US is likely to re-enter TPP. “We have agreements with several of them already. We would consider negotiating with the rest, either individually, or perhaps as a group.”

His speech is a signal thatcalls on more global capital to flow back onto US soil, and also a commitmentto safeguard the global economic order according to the US’ preference.Nevertheless, the international community is no less worried about Trump’sprotectionism; after all, the so-called “fair global trade” he has promised isactually centered on the US, rather than fully embody a mutually beneficial mindset and arrangement.

Before leaving for the Davos Forum on January 21st, Trump signed into law tariffs on imported solar panels and large washing machines, in order to fulfill his campaign promise to the Rust Belt states and help US manufacturers. According to thelaw, a 30% tariff will be imposed on imported solar cells and modules in thefirst year, with the rate declining over four years; a tariff as high as 50% will be imposed on large washing machines, which will then be gradually phased downin the second and third years. Political leaders and entrepreneurs attendingthe forum raised implicit criticisms against the Trump administration’s potential protectionist policies.

For the international community, the future of economic globalization and global governance does not rest in the hands of one country alone or even several countries. It is only by shelving differences, constructing new cooperation modes, promoting economic globalization toward a more open, inclusive, mutually beneficial and balanced path of development, and building a community with a shared future for mankind,can the world witness sustainable growth on real terms.

January 20th 2018 mark sthe one year anniversary of US President Trump’s inauguration. Opinions are highly divided over Trump’s performance during the year: he, along with those close to him, gave highly positive comments, while the US statesmen, the public, and the international community reported lower satisfaction.

Trump appeared “busy andhardworking” during his first year in office, striving to tell his voters that he dares to speak and act, and is capable of succeeding. Overall he has, indeed, demonstrated his considerable ability to learn about and adapt to Washington policies. His major “achievements” are as follows:

--Trump’s domestic and foreign policies were formulated in accordance with his ideology of “America First” and “peace through strength,” without any apparent deviations.

--Trump visited 28 states and the US territory of Puerto Rico, and led his administration to successfully addressa number of natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, which proved his administrative mobilization capability no less effective.

--Trump signed a total of 53 executive orders before the year 2017 ended. He bypassed Congress and kept several of his campaign promises, including lifting tariffs on some imports andimposing stricter immigration policies. His actions indicated a strong protectionist tendency catering to US political demands at the current stage.

--The Trump administration promoted economic recovery in the US. The economic growth continued to rise inthe first three quarters of 2017, 1.2 percent in Q1, 3.1 percent in Q2, and 3.2 percent in Q3. The annual economic growth is expected to have reached 2.5 percent, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, the lowest figure in 17 years.

--Trump signed into law two important pieces of legislation, namely Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act and Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The latter, in particular, started what hecalled “the biggest overhaul of the US tax system in 30 years.”

--In diplomacy, Trump pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Paris climate accord,and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Meanwhile, though it’s only Trump’s first year in office, his administration has already submitted a National Security Strategy to Congress, and showed considerable efficiency in drafting and submitting the subsequent reports of National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review.

However, these “achievements”are greatly exaggerated. Rather than direct attribution to Trump’s own efforts, the notable mobilization capability of the Trump administration is mostly enabled by a good combination of his personal operating style as a “merchant president” and the self-administration of US politics, which puts political cleavages aside. Most of the executive orders were signed in the first 100 daysof Trump’s presidency, which suggests that his relationship with Congress was poor—he preferred bypassing Congress and appeared unable to fully leverage the Republicans’ control of the White House and the two Houses of Congress.

The ongoing economic recoveryin US, to a great extent, is a continuation of the eight-year stimulus measurestaken by the Obama administration, and must not be solely attributed to the Trump administration. The reform of US tax system may bring more money back into the US soil in the short run, but will inflate the US’s debt burden in the long run.

Additionally, tightened immigration policies are subject to various restrictions imposed by thejudiciary.

Trump’s diplomatic policies,which feature withdrawal from a number of international affairs, vigorous practice of protectionism and mercantilism, and intense Cold War mentality,have significantly damaged the country’s soft power abroad, jeopardized its “leadership”in alliances, and aggravated the malaise and cleavages troubling the Middle East and the Asian-Pacific region.

Trump also suffered set backs during his first year in office. The biggest setback was that he failed to keep his promise to repeal Obama’s health care reform plan, which in large part was due to the absence of an effective alternative after unsuccessful negotiations with Congress. Furthermore, Trump failed to stop the Russia scandal from escalating, which might be a time bomb threatening his future presidency.

At present, many posts in the Trump administration are still left vacant: by the end of 2017, as many as 10 percent of ministerial posts, 30 percent of deputy ministerial posts, and 60 percent of director-level posts in the cabinet were still unfilled. Owing to the stormy relationship with traditional press, Trump must establish andmaintain his agenda-setting power through social media—that is, by frequently posting tweets. Moreover, the gaffes he made in response to the conflict between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, were criticized by the US public.

Overall, during his first year as the president, Trump relied on an inner circle comprised of militaries,family members, and “alt-right” figures to bypass Congress and rule the country. The circle, however, is divided into several layers, leading to fierceinfighting. As a result, the militaries’ influence rises, the clout of his family members erodes, and the “alt-right” figures are being pushed out—thethree parties form a coalition in which Trump and establishment-minded Republicans can find a modus vivendi.

The coalition has no choice butto practice the so-called “permanent campaign” (a disadvantaged president uses nonconventional means in election campaigns, bypasses opponents and critics and directly calls for voters, so as to strengthen his/her political base andconvey concerns straightway to Congress) for temporary gains in the first daysof Trump’s presidency. Nevertheless, the coalition is unlikely to introduce solidarity policies which can eliminate deep political and social cleavages in US, let alone a “great president” and a “great administration.” Furthermore, itmay undermine the US’s confidence abroad.

In mid-January 2018, Trump scored only a 39 percent approval rating in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the lowest mark in the poll’s history for any modern president after their first year in office. Among the respondents, a record-high 51 percent said they strongly disapproved of Trump’s performance. Meanwhile, the latest poll showed that his approval ratings from some of his major constituentgroups—whites, men and seniors—were below 50 percent: to be exact, 46 percent,45 percent, and 41 percent respectively. Another poll conducted by Fox News inmid-November 2017 suggested that only 33 percent of US people believed that the country was on the right path, while 59 percent took the contrary view.

Nonetheless, a poll conductedin late August 2017 showed that Trump’s approval ratings in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, three blue-collar and low-income strong hold states that tipped the 2016 election, sat at 34 percent, 32 percent, and 35 percent respectively, still half of his disapproval rating. But there was no substantial difference from Trump’s approval rating (39 percent in Michigan, 35percent in Wisconsin and 42 percent in Pennsylvania) on Election Day in 2016, according to exit polls. The stability of this key indicator suggests that blue-collarand low-income US people are still looking forward to Trump’s presidency, and that his political base has evidently not been shaken yet.

It’s also note worthy that after Trump delivered the closing address to WEF in Davos, observers inside and out side the US began to review his role. Some believe that as Trump heads into his second year in office, he is proactively formulating domestic and foreign policies, which lean towards the pro-establishment camp. He is no longer stuckin campaign mentality or considering denying Obama’s policies as the solepurpose as in the first year. Instead, he now focuses more on his responsibilities as the US president, and ponders the country’s future and howto adjust and reform its role in the international community.

In the future, it is worth observing how long the cooperation “agreement” between Trump’s decision-makers and the Republican establishment can be sustained. In mid term elections, which are scheduled to be held in the second half of 2018, the Republican Party will continue its control of the House of Representatives, but it is likely to lose the majority in the Senate. Republicans’ defeats in Senate races in Virginia, New Jersey, and Alabama in late 2017 were the prelude to Trump’s on coming half-crippled presidency.

China-US relations experienced a smooth transition within a relatively short time during Trump’s first year inoffice. In April 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Trump at Mar-a-Lagoin Florida; in November 2017, Trump paid a state visit to China; over the past year, the two countries have been negotiating the North Korean nuclear issue. All these factors created good momentum in bilateral relations and became highlightsof Trump’s diplomacy.

However, since late 2017, aseries of US documents, including NationalSecurity Strategy, positioned China as US’s primary competitor and a challenger for US national interests; the Trump administration launched asection 301 investigation into China’s practices which “may be harming the US intellectual property,” claiming to impose massive penalties; the US Congress passed the final version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which expressed that the Pentagon should consider allowing the US Navy to make routine port calls in Taiwan. As a result, China-US relations are likely to see a new round of severeturbulence.

Regarding the challenges andperils faced by bilateral relations, President Xi, at request, spoke to Trumpon the phone on January 16th, 2018, and stated that maintaining healthy and stable development in China-US relations appeals to the interestsof the two countries and peoples, and is also the common expectation of theinternational community. Both sides should keep exchanges at high level andacross all levels, give full play to the four high-level dialogue mechanisms and hold the second round of the dialogues in due time.

As President Xi Jinping pointed out, China-US economic and trade cooperation has brought numerous tangible benefits to the two countries. Both sides should properly solve economic and trade issues of common concern in a constructive manner by opening the market to each other and expanding cooperation. The two sides should actively support bilateral cooperation in such fields as militaries, law enforcement, drug control, people-to-people and cultural engagement as well as at sub-national levels, andmaintain close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues. The two sides should meet each other halfway, respect eachother, stay focused on cooperation, handle sensitive issues in a constructive manner, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, so as to maintain the healthy and stable development momentum of China-US relations.

On December 28th, 2017, protests broke out in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, and spread across the country in only a few days. Yet the situation was quickly defused at the beginning of 2018. On December 28th, Iranian authorities unexpectedly also announced that women will no longer be punished for not wearinga headscarf.

The first protesters who rallied in Mashhad were mostly Iran’s underclass living in dire circumstances. In demonstrating against Hassan Rouhani’s reformist government, they attempted to voice their demands concerning rising prices, corrupt government, high youth unemployment rate, and economic downturn. Information from multiple sources showed that the demonstration in Mashhad was mostly likely organized by conservatives who utilized the spread of a proposed government budget bill onsocial media. The bill proposed to further increase military spending and the budget for military forces operating overseas, and decrease subsidies for the poor.

As both conservatives and reformists considered protests as an opportunity to hit each other, Iranian authorities failed to keep the situation under control. As a direct result, the protesters shifted their focus to Iran’s theocracy, presenting new demands including repealing Iran’s system of governance by clerics (Wilayat al-Faqih) and separating religion from government—quite a shot at Iran’s supreme leader AliKhamenei.

The public also leveraged thedemonstration to express dissatisfaction over Iran’s diplomatic policies. They complained about Iran’s engagement in the civil wars of Yemen and Syria, supporting Palestine and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and spending money on overseasmilitary forces rather than domestic livelihood improvement. Meanwhile, they criticized the agreement reached on Iranian nuclear issue, stating that it failed to lift the country out of US and Western sanctions, or stimulate a cleardomestic economic recovery.

As the US President Trump, IsraeliPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other dignitaries expressed their supportfor protesters, Khamenei accused “outside forces” of fueling the situation andeven observed that the protests were organized by the US and Jews.

By January 4th, 2018, however, the situation was quickly brought under control: protests quieted down, without bothering people’s daily lives in the capital Tehran orescalating into a “Tehran Spring.” There are four explanations for this:

First, the Rouhaniadministration, wishing for a “soft landing,” responded mildly; second, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, police, and militia remained restrained towards protesters; third, the authorities organized and encouraged marches supporting the current regime, so as to seek a balance; fourth, the protests were disorganizedand distracted by multiple goals.

Nevertheless, this short turbulence was still a display of Iran’s internal contradictions over the past decade, revealing that Iran is faced with multi-faceted and complicated political and social problems. In the future, Iran must balance all parties’ interests in its economic and social reforms. Most importantly, it must mitigate themuch-loathed battles across the political spectrum domestically, and narrow its strategic reach when dealing with other countries, so as to concentrate onimproving Iranian people’s livelihood. What Iran experienced at the turn of2017 and 2018 carries a lesson for all countries exploring their future development through reforms.

The storm, again, reminds us that the Middle East is experiencing a profound revolution involving both internal and external factors. Internally, from Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption campaign launched by its new crown prince and Vision 2030, to Iranian people’s demands targeted at theocracy, the conservative trend, which has been prevalent since the 1970s, is being reversed. Externally, as Russia returns to the Middle East under the pretense of handling Syrian warfare and combating ISIS, the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a sign that the US leans more towards Israel; the established ISIS has been defeated, and Iranmay perform strategic withdrawals in the future. It seems that the shift ofpowers in the Middle East has entered a new active period. It is worth notingand pondering how the situation will impact China’s Belt and Road Initiative,the greater neighborhood diplomacy, security at West and Southwest China, and the balance of interests between China and US.

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