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China’s long game for the Singapore summit

17 0 0

NEW YORK – As we approach the Singapore Summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump — two volatile leaders drawn inexorably to the flame of international publicity without a clear idea of how the talks will come out — there is a larger agenda at play that is far less visible to the public.

While North Korea and the U.S. play a simple game of checkers, with characteristic stops and starts, the Chinese have an entirely different board game open in front of them — the ancient game of go.

Go provides many more possible moves than even chess, entails a longer-term strategic outlook, and operates in a manner that makes understanding the strategy of an opponent far more difficult. The U.S. needs to think more coherently about Chinese strategy if it is to retain a sufficient level of influence in the most vital parts of East Asia.

What is China up to? And how should American leaders react to the strategic challenge, even as they try to deal with the tactical threat of North Korea?

The real strategic centerpiece in East Asia is not the Korean Peninsula, although it is quite important. The true crowning jewel is the vast South China Sea, a body of water not much larger than the Caribbean, and which boasts millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas beneath its placid waters.

Even more important, a third of all global shipping passes........

© The Japan Times