Poor Barack Obama!

Jan 26, 2017 08.32AM |

HOW’S the ex-US president taking the words and actions of his successor? Mr Barack Obama must be feeling more than a little miffed that some of the major work done in his eight years in office are being rolled back. Maybe he’s even crying buckets.

His Obamacare health insurance plan is being unpicked. His hope that the US will be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now dashed. Even the black sites or overseas detention centres he closed look set to be re-opened. What about his Asian “pivot”? Mr Trump hasn’t articulated a foreign policy that encompasses this part of the world. But, clearly, whatever policy will put America first, and to hell with the rest.

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Trump’s America wants to go it alone. You sense the frustration of Japan which is hoping against hope for a change of heart over TPP. You sense that the Chinese are perplexed; it’s both a chance for it to assume regional and even global leadership, as well get into a trade war or a shoot-out somewhere in the South China Sea. The Mexicans must be really annoyed that Mr Trump is actually going to build a wall to divide the countries and, gulp, looks set to fulfil his campaign promises.

What Mr Trump has said; it seems he will do. He is also doing new things – like launching an investigation into voter fraud because he’s pissed that he lost the popular vote to Mrs Hillary Clinton although he swept up the electoral college votes. He thinks that illegal immigrants and dead people are being used to pad up the numbers. This is one thin-skinned president who relishes Twitter skirmishes with those who dare to undermine his legitimacy.

The key relationship is, of course, between the US and China. The Trump threat to re-think the One China principle and cosy up to Taiwan has got the Chinese all riled up. China wants the rest of the world to acknowledge its sovereignty over what it calls the renegade province. This is one reason that has been thrown up for the detention of the Singapore Armed Forces Terrexes which were en route from Taiwan to Singapore.

How will the little red dot navigate between the two superpowers? Diplomacy appears to have work in the case of the Terrexes which Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen hopes will be returned by Chap Goh Mei on Feb 11. Hong Kong, mindful perhaps of Singapore’s position of sovereign immunity, has said it never considered that the Singapore G was involved.

“We did not identify any information which points to the possibility of the Singapore Government being involved in the breach of the licensing conditions,” said its Customs spokesman. It was therefore, a matter between Hong Kong customs and the shipper APL.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman asked if Beijing had a hand in this, said it was for Hong Kong to follow the law. She also added this:

“Let me re-emphasise that the Taiwan question concerns China’s core interests.

“And the ‘one China’ principle is the prerequisite and political foundation for China to establish and develop relations with other countries.

“The Chinese government firmly opposes any forms of official interactions, including military-to-military exchanges and cooperation, between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with us.

“China has made representations to Singapore over the relevant incident and hopes that the Government of Singapore will faithfully adhere to the ‘one China’ principle.”

Is the bilateral kerfuffle really over or is China expecting some manifestation of good faith from Singapore?



Featured image from TMG file.

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