Over the past several years it has become abundantly clear that China does not have a high opinion of President Barack Obama.
As a reminder, at the start of September, during his final trip to China, China "welcomed" Obama with a very undiplomatic greeting when an unusual tarmac altercation involving Chinese and U.S. officials, including national security adviser Susan Rice, devolved into a shouting match by a member of the Chinese delegation. First, there was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet, so he had to use an emergency exit.
Then a member of the Chinese delegation began shouting at White House staff, demanding the pool leave the arrival scene. A White House official said "Obama was our president and Air Force One was our plane" and that the press was not going to move from the designated area. The Chinese official angrily responded "This is our country. This is our airport."
It only got worse from there.
Fast forward to today when overnight in commentary released by China's communist party mouthpiece, Xinhua, which usually is a conduit for the official of the politburo, token author Chen Shilei took a vicious stab at Barack Obama, mocking his trip abroad, and saying that Obama's last overseas visit while in office, "which became a last-minute conciliatory trip after Donald Trump's victory in the presidential elections, will in the end reassure nobody."
As the Chinese media outlet recaps, Obama on Monday started the trip, which will take him to Greece, Germany and Peru, amid concerns that Trump's election will change U.S. foreign policy and affect U.S. strategic relations with its allies and partners around the world.
The three-nation trip, during which Obama is expected to discuss regional and global issues with European leaders and attend a summit of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), was planned when his Democratic colleague Hillary Clinton seemed to be winning the race to the White House.
It gets better: launching a full-on attack on Obama's hypocrisy, the article said that "Obama, who criticized Trump during the general elections for lacking "basic knowledge" about critical issues in Europe, Asia and the Mideast, now is ironically convincing U.S. allies and partners that his successor will not behave as he predicted and America will maintain its core interests in the globe."
As a result, Shilei adds, the inconsistency between his words before and after the presidential elections reflects the looming uncertainty of relations between the United States and its European allies, "making his final trip not so reassuring as expected."
In Europe, U.S. allies were alarmed by Trump's rhetoric during his presidential campaign suggesting the United States might pull out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if other NATO members do not pay more and withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
However, frankly speaking, Obama is not the right choice to disperse the anxieties of U.S. allies over the possible changes, given his role as an outgoing president who has limited influence on the incoming administration.
Never one to skip an opportunity to mock America's "declining global influence", the author said that "meanwhile, the deep strategic concern among those countries also mirrors a growing decay of Washington's leadership in global affairs."
As for the punchline, China alleges that the US is becoming increasingly isolated:
The victory of Trump, who swore to "make America great again" and has been supported by nationalists and skeptics of globalization, reflects an increasing trend of isolation in U.S. society.
The trend had granted Trump firm support in the presidential race against Hillary and now it will greatly influence the foreign policy of his administration, making his allies more insecure and fretful.
Against such a backdrop, Obama's conciliatory overseas trip is doomed to be fruitless, and will only intensify the strategic uncertainty of the U.S. allies, instead of reassuring them.
In retrospect, a very accurate assessment of the situation, although one which we doubt Obama will be too concerned about. As for Trump, it remains to be seen just how China will approach his tenure: should Trump concede on issues like the proposed 45% tariff and be agreeable with President Xi who was among the first foreign leaders to call Trump telling him "cooperation is the only choice" , he will likely be praised in Beijing; on the other hand, should Trump's rhetoric escalate into all out war, the diplomatic war of words between China and the US will only escalate.
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