Trump’s “Stay-Win” With China

Xi Jinping wants China to ‘win local wars.’ Russia’s failures show that’s not so easy

In the early hours of July 30, a few hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s arrival in Washington, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo held a rare, high-level meeting with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Alexander Vershbow. Lavrov and Vershbow were both representing the United States at the high-level meeting, which, among other things, helped facilitate a deal for the deployment of a U.S. missile-defense system in Europe.

“I know you are looking for an honest conversation—and I’ll be honest with you the truth is, we have a strategic relationship with China,” Mattis told Lavrov and Vershbow. “We share a common interest in the defense of civilization. We also have a common interest in freedom for the world’s people. We believe that the rise of China is not a risk to the American people but an opportunity for us to succeed together.”

Pompeo, the CIA’s chief of staff, added, “Our nations have an important cooperative relationship. That relationship is critical in helping us better understand each other and working out shared interests. President Trump has made clear the US’s support for free, fair, and open trade.”

Lavrov and Vershbow were clearly taken aback, and later said that they were left “stunned” by Mattis’ remarks. But after a long pause, one of them offered, “We understand how deeply our nations have been impacted by shared challenges. As you know, your comments about China are accurate. Russia and China do have shared challenges. Our nations do share interests and seek to advance them.”

For Mattis, a Trump administration goal would be a “win-win” outcome, in which China and Russia work to help promote stability and security throughout Eurasia and beyond, while protecting US interests.

The US and China would be “united

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