In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Richard Engel, China’s foreign minister lays out the country’s national priorities in the wake of a new relationship with President Trump.
While Mr. Trump has not explained how he will keep China off islands where it has built airstrips and installed weapons, the comments by his appointees suggest the possibility of an American blockade. While Mr. Obama tried unsuccessfully to leverage American allies in the region to compel China to back down, Mr. Trump seems willing to abandon them and face China on his own.
That go-it-alone attitude has raised alarms at the Pentagon and among American Navy experts, who said such a blockade would be tantamount to war. The idea has also alarmed America’s allies.
Australia, Washington’s staunchest ally in the Asia Pacific region, would not participate in such a venture, its defense officials said, adding that a blockade could not be successful and could serve to persuade disenchanted American friends in the Asia Pacific to pivot toward China.
With Mr. Trump portending divisive action on many fronts, Mr. Xi was calm and prepared, his foreign minister, Wang Yi, suggested.
“Serene under the tumultuous clouds,” Mr. Wang said, quoting a line from a poem by Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China.
No one knows how long that will be the case.