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The US and China are currently engaged in a Cold War of sorts. Now, US President Trump has sought to extend the war to social media as he calls for the Chinese video app TikTok to be banned in the US. Trump’s right-hand man, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, claimed that because the app is China-based it is “feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party”.
Now, TikTok’s owner, China’s ByteDance, is under pressure to sell the app to a US-based owner.
Trump has now been accused of “Mafia-like behaviour” after suggesting the US should receive a “large percentage” of the sum of any sale because, in his words, “It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that’s the way I think, and I think it’s very fair”.
The move is intended to protect the private data of US citizens as well as highly secret state documents.
Yet, as Sean King, senior vice president at Park Strategies and business advisor to Asia, told Express.co.uk, there are more important things that the president should focus on in trying to curb the power and influence of China – one being forging multilateral deals between nations.
Discussing how one of the best ways to stop China in its tracks would be to curb business there, Mr King exposed one of Trump’s major China blunders, and explained: “We shouldn’t be helping the government clamp down on its own people by doing more business there and investing there and giving them more technology they can use against their own people.
“There is something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which was a collection of Pacific countries and the US’ trade agreement against China – but now it’s ended.
“Trump pulled the US out of it because he doesn’t like multilateral deals.
“Yet, I think we should be doing more deals like that; we should be trading more with friends and allies that share our values and don’t intimidate their neighbours.
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“If I could give some friendly advice to Trump, I’d say, ‘why are we harassing South Korea and Japan over defence costs?’ We should be happy we can keep our troops there because it’s a forward deployment against Chinese expansion in its near abroad – It’s another way to protect Taiwan and Japan’s near islands’.
“I think we should be honest with what China’s all about and stop picking needles and fights with our friends and allies.”
Trump ran on a 2016 president campaign pledge to pull out of the TPP.
The 12-nation trade deal was a linchpin of former President Barack Obama’s Asia policy.
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Dumping the act with the stroke of a pen, Trump remarked: “Great thing for the American worker what we just did.”
He also cut funding for international groups that provide abortions, and froze hiring of some federal workers.
Arguing that the deal harmed US manufacturing, Trump, during his campaign trail, criticised the accord as a “potential disaster for our country”.
The deal, which covered 40 percent of the world’s economy, was negotiated in 2015 by nations including the US, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico.
The TPP’s stated aim was to strengthen economic ties and boost growth, including by reducing tariffs, and included measures to enforce labour and environmental standards, copyrights, patents and other legal protections.
Experts like Mr King condemned the move because they fear it could force Pacific nations into feeling like they have to strike deals with Beijing.
Reports suggest that some Pacific nations are already turning to China.
This was especially true after Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Some of the most hard-hit nations by climate change hoped the US would remain committed to cutting global emissions in order to curtail rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Beijing has vowed to remain in the Paris Agreement.
Last year, the Solomon Islands, which consist of some 900 individual islands, downgraded its ties with Taiwan in a bid to reignite talks with mainland China.
Robson Tana Djokovic, the Solomon Islands prime minister’s chief of staff told NPR that “economic reasons were a key driver of the Solomons’ decision, but climate change was “also a factor in the decision to switch”.
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