For China, Russia, and Israel, patience is a virtue in 2024
In January, Taiwan elected pro-independence candidate William Lai and, despite warnings, China’s response has been restrained, possibly influenced by Beijing’s belief that the leading US presidential candidate may treat Taiwan like a “discarded chess piece.”
That’s what Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Chen Binhua said would happen if Donald Trump won the US election in November after the former president refused to say whether he would defend Taiwan. His comments shook US ally Japan strongly enough that senior Kishida administration officials are reportedly contacting Trump’s camp to warn against cutting any kind of deal with China.
The view from China: The prospect of a friendlier – or at least more transactional – US administration might be good news for cross-strait relations in the short term. There's no point in rocking the boat in a way that might hurt either Trump’s prospects or what trust Beijing has built with the Biden administration over the last year (Joe Biden, after all, could win too).
Beijing isn’t alone in recognizing that a little patience could pay big dividends after November. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Israeli far-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir said Israel would have carte blanche under Trump 2.0.
“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with humanitarian aid and fuel, which goes to Hamas,” he said. “If Trump [were] in power, the US conduct would be completely different.”
The view from the Kremlin is just as rosy. Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has been arguing for months that Vladimir Putin is waiting for Trump to be re-elected to sue for peace in Ukraine because of how destabilizing another dose of Trump will be to NATO. Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daaldermade a similar argument last week. And Trump did tell European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave, we will quit NATO” in 2020.
GZERO also has its eye on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He and Trump left it in a bad place after their whirlwind romance in 2018 … but who knows what another love letter might spark?