China’s New ‘Silk Road’ Is Based on Its National-Security Agenda

China's New 'Silk Road' Is Based on Its National-Security Agenda
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China’s New ‘Silk Road’ Is Based on Its National-Security Agenda by James Jay Carafano – Strategic-Culture

Trump’s trip to Europe has several stops. Still, his travels might be light on substance. That’s all right. He’ll be back. In fact, there is likely to be a significant uptick in the transatlantic dialogue. And there is likely going to be another item added to the agenda: China.

Modest Major Dialogue

The president’s first foreign-policy excursion (after visiting the Middle East) takes him to Europe. This clearly signals that the Asian “pivot” policy is in the past.

That doesn’t mean there will be any slackening in America’s seventy-year commitment to fostering peace, security and prosperity in the East. It’s just that the new administration recognizes America has critical interests in Europe and the Middle East as well. Those interests are under assault in all three regions, and one can’t be prioritized over the other. In fact, they are interconnected.

That said, the European portion of Trump’s trip seems pretty modest. He will hobnob with the pope, then participate in opening the new NATO headquarters in Brussels (where he may roll out the results of the U.S. policy review on the way forward in Afghanistan). In Sicily, the G-7 Summit looks like a nothingburger, though Trump will likely hold some important bilateral discussions on the sidelines.

The goals of the trip appear to be pared back to match the reality that the administration hasn’t had the time or personnel to completely fill out its foreign-policy agenda. Clearly, the White House has sent every signal that NATO and Europe remain important to U.S. security—and no sign that the U.S. will be limp-wristed in dealing with Putin. After a recent high profile visit to the White House, the Russian foreign minister walked away with nothing more than vague promises of better relations and a long to-do list for the Kremlin to cleanup its act in Ukraine and Syria.

The list of what the U.S. and the Europeans have to work on is piling up. The future of the Iran Deal, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, trade, refugees, the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, and the Paris Climate Agreement are all hot button issues. Then there are the emerging challenges, such as the trouble brewing in the Balkans. Further, in the wake of the French elections, there is still debate to be had over the role of nationalism in the transatlantic community.

Added to this messy mix of issues is the topic few are still talking about—the dragon in the room.

West Meets East

Until recently, Europeans didn’t seem to have much curiosity in the fractious relationship between the United States, a long-standing Asia-Pacific power, and an emerging China. In capitals from Brussels to Berlin and Oslo to Athens, if there was interest at all over Beijing, it was about doing business in China or getting Chinese investment in Europe.

Lately, Europeans are starting to see China as not just a checkbook, but as a player that is becoming more strategically relevant to Europe.

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