China Daily: Tillerson's "Disastrous" Actions Would Set The Course For A "Devastating Confrontation"

Tyler Durden's picture

We were surprised by how contained China was this morning after yesterday's confirmation hearing of Rex Tillerson, in which the former Exxon CEO said that a failure to respond to China had allowed it to “keep pushing the envelope” in the South China Sea and added that “we’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first the island-building stops and second your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed” and that putting military assets on those islands was "akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine."

Traditionally such a direct threat would be i) perceived as very undiplomatic and ii) prompt an immediate, and angry rebuke from Beijing, with China immediately shifting to the offensive.

“This is the sort of off-the-cuff remark akin to a tweet that pours fuel on the fire and maybe makes things worse,” Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra told Bloomberg. “Short of going to war with China, there is nothing the Americans can do.”

But not today: during his press conference earlier today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang could barely muster the will to sound defensive, saying China has been acting within the limits of its sovereignty. “Like the U.S., China has the right within its own territory to carry out normal activities,” he said at a regular briefing in Beijing. When asked repeatedly about Tillerson's comments on blocking access to islands, China's foreign ministry spokesman said he couldn't make any guesses as to what Tillerson was referring to and would not answer hypothetical questions, Reuters reported.

As it turns out, China may not have had time to digest what Tillerson said. After all his South China sea remark was toward the end of his nearly all day long hearing, and so many local media outlets may have simply missed it. However, they caught up today, and first China Daily, then its nationalist tabloid, the Global Times took turns to first mock, then attack Tillerson.

Here is the gist of the China Daily op-ed published earlier today: according to the Chinese daily mouthpiece, not only were Tillerson's views "divergent from, even contrary to, those of Trump on some critical issues. He openly conceded he is yet to have a serious, in-depth discussion with Trump on foreign policy imperatives. These boil down to one simple point – his remarks at the Wednesday hearing, sensational as they were, turned out to be of little reference value except for judging his personal orientations."

Yet while China realizes that Tillerson's bluster was intended for a specific audience, that does not make it any happier:

The backlash that has ensued is understandable. It is certainly no small matter for a man intended to be the US diplomat in chief to display such undisguised animosity toward China.  Tillerson labeled China's reclamation projects in the South China Sea as "an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms," in obvious disregard of the essential truth that all those activities took place well within the country's persistent, historical territorial claims.


Blaming the "extremely worrisome" state of affairs in the South China Sea on an "inadequate US response", the US secretary of state nominee even claimed China's access to those islands should "not to be allowed". Which sounded intimidating; though he stopped short of elaborating how to achieve it. And like Trump, he blamed Beijing for "not being a reliable partner" in dealing with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

And then, the not so subtle threats followed:

Such remarks are not worth taking seriously because they are a mish-mash of naivety, shortsightedness, worn-out prejudices, and unrealistic political fantasies. Should he act on them in the real world, it would be disastrous.


As many have observed, it would set a course for devastating confrontation between China and the US. After all, how can the US deny China access to its own territories without inviting the latter's legitimate, defensive responses?

Finally, the mocking of Tillerson as a clueless former company exec who does not have the faintest understanding of diplomacy: "Tillerson wanted a reality-based China policy that is "based on what we see and not based on what we hope". But what he presented was based more on what prejudice and arms-spurred self-righteousness make him believe and hope than on real-world realities. What happened on Wednesday shows that if and when confirmed, Rex Tillerson needs to first acquaint himself with the ABCs of China-US relations and diplomacy at large."

The Global Times approach was almost verbatim. First, the justification of Tillerson's "bluster":

It is suspected that he merely wanted to curry favor from senators and increase his chances of being confirmed by intentionally showing a tough stance toward China.


Tillerson did not give details of how he would achieve his self-proclaimed goals. Nonetheless, he also mentioned that Chinese and American economic interests are deeply intertwined and that "China has been a valuable ally in curtailing elements of radical Islam." He noted that "We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership."

Motives aside, the GT then explained that China no longer views itself as America's subordinate:

China has enough determination and strength to make sure that his rabble rousing will not succeed. Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish. The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea.

Following this, just like in the case of China Daily, there was the mocking:

Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories. Probably he just has oil prices and currency rates in his mind as former ExxonMobil CEO.

Next, the not so thinly veiled threat - again - aimed not so much at Tillerson but at Trump:

As Trump has yet to be sworn in, China has shown restraint whenever his team members expressed radical views. But the US should not be misled into thinking that Beijing will be fearful of their threats.

How does it all end according to China? Unless Trump's diplomatic team changes course, the Times said "the two sides better prepare for a military clash."

Tillerson's statements regarding the islands in the South China Sea are far from professional. If Trump's diplomatic team shapes future Sino-US ties as it is doing now, the two sides had better prepare for a military clash. South China Sea countries will accelerate their negotiations on a Code of Conduct. They have the ability to solve divergences by themselves without US interference.

And the conclusion:

Just as the Philippines and Vietnam are trying to warm their ties with China, Tillerson's words cannot be more irritating.  It is hoped that Tillerson will desire a productive partnership with China more and his harsh words are just coaxing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But no matter what, China will always respond to various US diplomatic maneuvers.

As a reminder, all this has already happened and Trump isn't president yet. We eagerly look forward to the president-elect's next steps vis-a-vis an increasingly angry CHina and vice versa.

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lester1's picture

China cannot survive without access to the US market.



wee-weed up's picture



Yep, the ChiComs will rattle their sabres, but in the end, they'll knuckle under...

knowing there is a new US Sheriff in charge... not the former wussy!

froze25's picture

Serously the Chinese are having a bad day. A Man in the White House that won't sell out his people for a buck. Now they have to see how large his Brass balls are. They will come around. Probably something like "Oh, President Trump, you think we were serous right? No, no, no. The Chinese will gladly work towards peace." 

Manthong's picture


I am tending towards the notion that these guys are saying what needs to be said to get into position.

Whatever they blathered to the senate neo- lib/cons isn’t worth squat after the team lines up.

weburke's picture

the position is the one supported by the globalists. there is no china republic. lower level nationalists are hallucinating about who rules them.

CheapBastard's picture

McStain does not like him.

Lindsey graham does not like him.

China does not like him.

Now, if Elijah Cumming Ham and Corey Booker Ham say they don't like him, I think he'll be my favorite choice!

The Merovingian's picture

Can't we trade those douchebags for a deal?

The simple fact is China rips off our IP, hacks our industrial & commercial enterprises and makes our government and utilities computer infrastructures look like a sieve. We do nothing to them. Their island building is a fucking joke, and they are doing nothing about North Korea.

Fuck China, they cannot be trusted. Tillerson rocked it in his hearings. He's going to be so much better than Horseface Hitlery.

xythras's picture

Looks like the DEEP STATE might have won over TRUMP & Co.

Trump conceded that "Russian hacking" was involved, Tillerson is becoming a warmonger and anti-Russian, WTF ?


Manthong's picture

If you hang around here long enough and speak your mind, you might be fortunate enough to acquire your very own personal troll.

You know, the kind of myopic, self-absorbed flunky who discharges his own frustration by denigrating others but in a pseudo-anonymous way.

I could post “Mother Theresa was a good person” and the troll would red vote me.

I have had many >50, and a few up to 200 or so up-votes  with one solitary red one.

Troll, if you have a contention you can elect to put it into words or just like a kid masturbating, do it in your closet with a persistent red vote every time you see me post a comment.


Just remember troll, every time you do that…

I own you.

I have a rent-free space in your brain.

And likely a few other ZH’rs are taking up space there as well.

I will post this a few more times to make sure the troll understands how much he is owned.


Manthong's picture

“Elijah Cummings Ham and Corey Booker Ham say they don't like him”

Wut up, bro?  No brainer… he be the man for you


Tillerson had me at “McCain…Graham does not like him".


Matteo S.'s picture

No. The important point is that Trump did not reckon the BS lie that Russia would have leaked It. The DNC server security was such a joke that any teenager could hack it. So of course the russians could have hacked it.

But the russians did not leak it. Ambassador Murray made it clear the leak came from a DNC insider.

Laowei Gweilo's picture

China doesn't need to be trusted.


but like Russia, China are basically fake former commuist idealogues who in reality are crony capitalists 

not much different than the US, except in the US our corporations are run by the friend's of politicians rather than politicians, and instead of bribery we call it lobbying. apples and oranges; still fruity.


and, i'm not sure about you guys, but I don't really want to see Uncle Sam wasting billions, let alone American lives, over either Crimea or some damn islands in the South China Sea. 


unless the US somehow plans to invade either, who the eff cares who controls it? better 'China the ally' anyhow since with our Mutual Assured [Economic] Destruction, they're a better ally than most anyhow.


plus, what's the one thing that China (Xinjiang), Russia (Chechnya, Syria), and the US all have in common? god damned Islamic terrorism lol


seriously. US, Russia, China should focus on mutual nationalist-based (with country-to-country specific trade deals) and stay-at-home foreign policies that only leaves our shores for the 1 shared common interest all 3 countries have -- bombing Islamic terrorists. my opinion. but what do I know -__- i'm stuck with trudeau for a few more years.

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) Manthong Jan 13, 2017 12:23 AM

Rex Tillerson, chairman of Exxon and its worldwide operations, is a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) which is dominated by senior members of the Rockefeller/CFR. He is definitely a member of the club.

rockstone's picture

Of course he is. We have a long way to go before we climb out of that barrel.

brianshell's picture

Exactly, Tillerson is no loose cannon. He just said what the neocons wanted to hear. What a bunch of psychos trying to start WWIII.

Dave the jew's picture

would imagine the whole trump cabinet now has a copy and frantically reading sun tzus "art of war" hahaha. In another book -(He'll put it into their hearts and minds of the governments of the world to fulfill his purpose ).. becoming crystal clear !!!

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

They would have to offset the loss of the US and probably EU market (due to political sanctions) with other markets in Eurasia.

They'd have to dump the Dollar and USTs, back their money with gold, and get others (Russia) to join. All the while keeping protests down.

HopefulCynic's picture

And the US internal market would be dead in days without China. "."

ParticularlyStupidHumanoid's picture

A Chinese woman took a photograph of Tillerson's notes, as they lay on the table during a recess. We have yet to see adequate attention to that action in the mainstream press. Well screw them, the mainstream press. But what the hell is going on when a Chinese woman can photograph the notes of a person who has been targeted by the Chinese government? Why the fuck do we even have a press for anyway?

soyungato's picture

I suggest you do some fact check first. China’s main export partners are the United States (18 percent of total exports), Hong Kong (15 percent), the European Union (16 percent, of which Germany, the UK and the Netherlands account for 3 percent each), ASEAN countries (12 percent, of which Vietnam accounts for 3 percent), Japan (6 percent), South Korea (4 percent) and India (3 percent).   Losing 18% export market is no small potato but it cuts both ways.  China is not the enemy, neither is Russia. If you want to know who our enemy is just ask Pogo.

Gonzogal's picture

The TRUTH is that the US CANNOT surive without the inexpensive products made in China!! Take a look at everything you own and the percentage of it made in CHINA!  If you didnt have access to these and similar products you would at least be paying double or have NOTHING!  AND dont foget the amount of US debt that China holds...dont piss off the Chinese Dragon OR the Russian Bear!

Yen Cross's picture

  I said this earlier, and I'll say it again!  >>>> FUCK China.  The PBoC and PLAoC can go pound sand.

  Totally agree with Tillersons comments.

  China is a big problem, and they are fucking liars.  Float the Yuan bitchez. Also, I call bullocks on $3T in F/X reserves.

Duc888's picture



China will prove to be a much much bigger problem puppy in the future than Russia.

Déjà view's picture

Leathernecks, USAF, & Navy would take care of this totalatarian regime...Chicom cannot cleanup disorganized mess in their own nation...

Manthong's picture


I tend to think that the debt problem there is way more humungous than represented.

All of those ghost cities and unused facilities were not built organically.

Their rubber band is pretty well stretched.

Parrotile's picture

Those Ghost Cities. "Make-Work" projects, or something else?


The Russians build shelter networks for their population; the Chinese build "new" cities to house populations that have had their home cities destroyed, perhaps??


Should the US have a few "unfortunate incidents" involving major cities / conurbations, rehoming the survivors will be far from easy (and the accommodation will by necessity be somewhat spartan). Seems China might be planning on "rehoming" their survivors in nice, new accommodation, and it doesn't take a genius to realise which population will return to settled, productive activity sooner, especially in view of all the working, functional infrastructure.


Something to think about, isn't it.

tricorn teacup's picture

I see China as perilously close to economic collapse.  And there is precedent for a government with severe internal problems engaging in military adventures to distract the population from the source of their troubles.

Gonzogal's picture


You are on ZH, and if you have ANY doubt that the US economy as well as others world wide are about to implode you have been reading the wrong articles!!!



max_leering's picture

are those same leathernecks, airmen and sailors wearing matching capris, sports bras and stiletto heels?

Yen Cross's picture

   I agree with that preliminary assessment.

 China plays the waiting game, BUT, unfortunately China no longer has that privilege.

   China has "debt obligations" if they want to be part of the "real world".

  Building sand castles, is very bad for the YUAN!  Just ask offshore traders<

Bay of Pigs's picture

I guess people have forgotten the Chinese sub missile launch off CA a few years ago? Problem is YC, they also have a 200M man army they can mobilize. The US would be crazy to take them on militarily.

Let's hope calmer heads prevail on this.

licutis's picture

They can only mobilize them internally, they have no ability yo transport them much less make a supply chain work for them. It's important to remember that the Chinese military is more of a domestic security organization.

yttirum's picture

And the 200 mill this dude states is laughable.

Bay of Pigs's picture

Seriously? That's laughable.

yttirum's picture

Ya gotsta be kiddin. 200 million man army? Dude, get real. They have ~4.6 million active and reserve. Those others you talk about have zero training. You do realize there are over 120 million gun toting Americans with an average of 3 guns per patriot, right? You do realize that ~25% of those have military training and 20% have advanced civilian training? That's not even our military. Our civilian "bench" is the largest standing army in the world. I'll just add this; One American patriot is worth 10 chicom lackeys.

zippedydoodah's picture

Your talk of men and their guns is irrelevant. Do you really imagine that the "winner" of WW3 will be decided by men with guns? 

Bombs kill, bullets miss.

Kaboom and we're all dead.



yttirum's picture

It was a reply to that subject. You are right, of course.

Bay of Pigs's picture

So says the 23 week ZH expert.

Get fucked buddy.

yttirum's picture

Ooh, time frame and all. Ya got me. You are the kink of the ZH clique. Sorry I didn't cut the mustard to be in the club. What a fuckin tool, dude.

Bay of Pigs's picture

Bunch of geopolitical idiots around here these days. No fucking way the US can push China and Russia around. Especially not both of them.

You guys are delusional.

yttirum's picture

You know shit about geopolitics, son. Sure, I guess the US, NATO allied forces, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, The Jews, Australia, Canada and maybe a couple ringers wouldn't have anything to say about it, eh. Anyway, it would never get that far. American engine is turning back on. Better get yourself a couple pallets of kleenex, cause suckin that Chinese eggroll is coming to an end.

Budnacho's picture

Sadly, facts like these are lost in their "ooo scary-China" ideology.


yttirum's picture

Fuckin asian persuasion, man. They're just a bunch of sneaky little fucks in business and outta business. A good smack down is comin.

Parrotile's picture

That would be slightly over 3.5 million FULLY TRAINED Military / Paramilitary personnel available for rapid deployment. Consider "fit for military service" and you are looking at  619 MILLION individuals. Rather more than the entire US population, you will note.

As for direct confrontation, the Chinese wouldn't bother. There are so many easy "soft" targets in the USA (destruction of which would certainly lead to "interesting circumstances") that there's no sense in a traditional  "toe to toe with the enemy" style conflict.

They'll knock out your infrastructure, wait for the dust to settle, then "mop up" any survivors after Civil War II grinds to a close.

yttirum's picture

You are seriously considering that the Chinese can muster an army that large? Wow, man, wow! Well, I've been in the military and understand from start to finish, what it takes to be battle ready. The logistics alone knock that theory dead. I guess you win, though, China can defeat the US...easy peasy...just like you said. I guess we'll see soon how far they want to go. My guess we'll be seeing some begging coming outta China in short order.

shimmy's picture

Shhhh, don't try and speak logic to the idiots who want a war with China yet mock those who are pushing for war with Russia. Morons hate logic.

I'm no fan of China but Tillerson's comments on the islands seem pretty ridiculous and if that wasn't just some smoke and mirrors shit and is actually how this admin will look to deal with China then Trump is a complete idiot.

licutis's picture

I don't want war with them but if they screw the US, I have no issue returning the favor. They are a paper tiger and we should not bow to their every demand because of their falsely claimed military abilities. We can afford to turn off the import spigot, they can't afford it to be turned off. If they can't handle that we decided to take our business elsewhere and respond with force, well, that's their choice.

BandGap's picture

Do some research, the Chinese army is one of the worst trained major armies in the world.

They are dangerous, however. Their mid and upper tier leadership has not seen war and they are prone to stupidity.

sheikurbootie's picture

I believe the "army" is conscripts.  How well does that EVER work out?  Never.

China is a true paper tiger.  The bought the aircraft carrier 2nd or 3rd hand.  If memory serves, it was Russian built but sold to India.  It's a small piece of shit too.  The Chinese steal tech from everywhere.  They really are poorly trained and not a direct threat.  In 10 years it could be a different story.


Yen Cross's picture

   Remember... we're trading the Asian session currently.   The shills are thick<

  There's ways to proxy the Yuan short. It's just not worth it because China shouldn't even be WTO member.

 The second largest economy in the World, and largest exporter< yet China can't step up and (float) the yuan?

  How pathetic is that?  China pegs their currency vs $usd, yet claims to trade and settle with yuan in Africa.

  China is FIRED! You had your chance, multiple times.