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A PLA General’s Speech on How China Should Deal with Trump

Major General Jin Yinan gave a speech on January 20 about how China should position itself after Trump takes office. He explained in detail why China has nothing to worry about at all.

{Editor’s Note: Jin Yinan (金一南) is a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a national security strategy expert in China. He served as the Director of the Institute of Strategy Study at the National Defense University of the PLA.

A video of Jin’s speech on how China should deal with Trump was spread widely over the Internet. The speech was give on January 20, 2017, right before Trump’s inauguration. It was not clear to which audience the speech was intended.

The following is a translation of excerpts from his speech.} {1}

A Small Success Requires a Friend but a Big Success Requires an Enemy (0:00 – 0:48)

A small success, such as making money in business, needs friends to help with connections, financing, and marketing, but for a huge success, we need an enemy. It is a good thing that we have the U.S. as an enemy that constantly makes trouble for us. We tend to slack off and become complacent. We can even get lost once we have some money in our pocket. However, the U.S. wakes us up, energizes us, keeps us diligent, makes sure that we do not slack off, and pushes us to continue our efforts.

A Declining Empire (1:00 – 1:10)

 Recently the military attaché asked me to sum up my impression of the U.S. from my last trip there in December 2016. I told him one thing: (It is) a declining empire.

Trump’s Biggest Opponent in the Upcoming Time Is the U.S.’s Elite Groups (3:05 – 4:04)

Trump has a strong appetite but he does not know the rules of the game; nor does he have a lot of time. He says that he will make America great again by bringing businesses back to the U.S.  In fact, he does not have enough time to make America great again.

The American society can hardly tolerate a president pushing 80 years old. At the time of his inauguration, he was 71 years old. Will he have a second term? I do not think so.

Wall Street, Ivy Leagues, and Silicon Valley are all against him. Over 200 Wall Street economists including several Nobel Laureates oppose him. Several hundreds of professors from Ivy Leagues such as Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and the University of California at Berkeley oppose him. Silicon Valley high tech CEOs and Hollywood movie stars all oppose him.

As Trump moves to the next phase, his biggest opponent is not China, but the elite groups in his own country who are busy making trouble for him.

New York Times’ Commentary on Trump (4:54 – 5:27)

On November 9, 2017, the New York Times editorial said that Trump was the most unprepared president-elect in modern history and that he was temperamentally unfit to lead a diverse nation of 320 million people. By challenging every norm of American politics, Trump upended first the Republican Party and then the Democratic Party. According to the New York Times, Trump has now placed the U.S. on a precipice. {2}

Isn’t that a good thing?  He did not place China on a precipice but has placed the U.S. on a precipice. What should we worry about?  There is nothing we should worry about.

Phone Call with Tsai Ing-wen (5:32 – 6:56)

(Trump) is an elephant in a china shop (that keeps breaking things). He took a phone call from Tsai Ing-wen. We did not even have to say anything – he was already chewed out in the U.S.

DNC spokesman Eric Walker said, “Donald Trump is either too incompetent to understand that his foolish phone call threatens our national security or he’s doing it deliberately because he reportedly wants to build hotels in Taiwan to pad his own pockets.” Walker said that given that Trump didn’t release his tax returns and hadn’t divested from his business, it appeared Trump was “prioritizing his personal fortune over the security interest of the nation.” {3}

Is Trump what Walker accused him of? No. Walker got it wrong, but it is politics. Who cares what is right or wrong? Democrats find little faults and launch attacks against Trump all over the place.

We Chinese do not need to lift a finger. The Americans are fiercely attacking him.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn), who sits on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, blasted Trump: “These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start.” {4}

These strong words embarrassed Tsai Ing-wen so much that she had to keep a low profile. She did not dare to talk about that call with Trump anymore. All U.S. media blasted Trump for taking the call. Tsai said that if it continued like that, she would become a person that no one dared to contact. If someone contacted her, they might (be accused of) starting a war.

The Two Worst Days in the 21st Century in U.S. History (7:00 – 7:12)

Americans say there are two worst days in the 21st century: 9/11 and 11/9 when Trump was elected President.

The Summit of Trump and Xi Jinping (7:40 – 8:00)

Some diplomats urged that President Xi should meet with Trump as soon as possible to stabilize the Sino-U.S. relationship. I say this was wrong. Why meet him as soon as possible? Let Trump continue his rampage. We can meet him when his head is covered with bumps. Why meet now?

The Trade Issue between the U.S. and China (8:01 – 8:45)

We are very worried because Trump said that he will increase the tariff on Chinese products by 45 percent and will have the U.S. Treasury name China as a currency manipulator. That was nothing but campaign rhetoric. There is a big difference between campaign rhetoric and actual official remarks.

Don’t take his words seriously. He is a politician.

The U.S. Sent China a Big Present by Withdrawing from TPP (8:50 – 9:33)

Trump has given us a grand gift, though he does not know it. We are quiet about it. We repeatedly state that Trump harms China. We want to keep it that way.

In fact, he has given China a huge gift. That is the U.S.’ exiting TPP. Obama, Hilary, Abe, and Lee Hsien Loong formed the TPP. It was meant to contain China economically. (The U.S.’) “return to the Asia-Pacific” (policy) was the military approach. They collaborated together to target China, against China’s “One Belt and One Road,” and kept China out.

We have not yet figured out the best way to deal with it. Now Trump said the U.S. will exit TPP. What a wonderful gift! It could not be better.

Trump Is a Businessman. He Does not Want a War. Rather He Wants Economic Development (10:33 – 10:53)

Overall, Trump does not want to start a war. He is a businessman. He wants economic growth. He does not want to have a confrontation in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, or to fight Middle East terrorists. He said the U.S. has spent six trillion dollars on war in the Middle East, enough to build two United States.

Using Blackmail to Get Asians to Contribute Money to the U.S.’s Economic Development (10:54 – 11:25)

 Trump wants to use blackmail to grow his economy. The approach has scored.

Sun Zhengyi (Softbank) in Japan promised to invest $60 billion in facilities in the U.S. Terry Guo (Foxconn) agreed to invest $14 billion to build factories in the U.S. Trump thinks Asians are like a sponge. If you squeeze them, the water will come out.

China is the largest Asian country. There is no question that Trump will do the same to China. We must effectively resist his blackmail.

China Must Stand Firm in Front of Trump’s Blackmail (11:26 – 12:55)

My concern is that some top cadres talked about stabilizing the relationship (with the U.S.). If we do that, we will be in trouble.

Trump has already got what he wanted. Sun Zhengyi and Terry Guo both caved in to him. All Asians are the same. They will give in if you blackmail them.

We must stand firm without giving in. As long as we stand firm, we have hope.

As the Peterson Institute for International Economics stated, if Trump imposes a 45 percent tariff on China, China can do the same to the U.S. The Peterson Institute calculated that a 2009 retaliatory tax on Chinese tires cost American consumers $1.1 billion in higher tire prices — equal to more than $900,000 for every job saved in the U.S. domestic tire industry – and this money taken from consumers reduced their spending on other retail goods, bringing a net of 2,500 job losses. {5}

However, there is a timing issue. The 2009 tire tariff showed its damaging effect in 2011. So we must stand firm for a period of time for the damage to take place.

 It is much easier to deal with Trump than Hilary Clinton. Trump is our opportunity.

President of the Divided States of America (13:05 – 12:15)

This is how Time magazine described Trump as Person of the Year on its cover: “President of the Divided States of America.” {6}

The U.S. Retreats, China Advances (13:43 – 14:40)

According to Deutsche Welle, when attempting to change the foundation of the U.S.-China relationship, Trump will find much more room for maneuvers in Beijing than in Washington. Further, the Chinese people are a lot more patient with the Chinese leader than American voters are with the American leader.

The U.K. former Chancellors of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) George Osborne said that China’s “One Belt One Road” proposition will be the most important force for globalization in the next ten years.

As the U.S. retreats globally, China shows up. We can’t push (the U.S.) out but as the U.S. retreats, we show up.

China has now become the standard bearer for globalization. That is why President Xi was so valued at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


{1} Wenxue City, “This Video Has Been Widely Spread: PLA Major General Ji Yinan’s Internal Discussion on Trump,” February 11, 2017.
{2} New York Times, “Donald Trump’s Revolt,” November 9, 2016.
{3} Washington Post, “Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, a major break with decades of U.S. policy on China,” December 3, 2016.
{4} The Hill, “Dem on Trump’s foreign policy moves: ‘That’s how wars start’,” December 2, 2016.
{5} Peterson Institute for International Economics, “US Tire Tariffs: Saving Few Jobs at High Cost,” April 2012.
{6} Euronews, “Time calls Donald Trump ‘President of the Divided States of America” July 12, 2016.