The only thing worse than an enemy laughing at you is for them to dismiss you as irrelevant. And that's exactly how China currently views the United States with Donald Trump at the helm.
In an unusual and unusually scathing op-ed, Yan Xuetong, one of China's leading intellectuals, made the case that even as China expands its economic sphere of control, Trump is incapable of starting a new Cold War with China as America's main rival. The main three points Xuetong makes are conventional enough: America's retreat from the world stage makes it difficult to fight that kind of war, an economic, as opposed to ideological, contest is not as easy to fight through proxy wars, and China, Xuetong claims, is not as motivated by military adventurism as both Russia and the US were at the height of the Cold War.
But then Xuetong gets to the real reason China is currently emboldened to increase its global footstep without worryiong about the United States and it has nothing to do with who has the stronger economy or who has the "bigger button"; It's all about how worthless Donald Trump is as a leader:
To be sure, China-U.S. competition will inevitably grow more severe in 2018. At the moment, China appears to have more confidence than the U.S. in this competition because it believes the Trump administration suffers from a crippling lack of credibility both at home and abroad. The most crucial factor in international competition between superpowers is strategic credibility.
At Davos late last month, Trump delivered a standard and sober political speech that departed from the tone of his previous talks or tweets. Yet it did little, if anything, to improve America’s reputation. This implies that the Trump administration has already — perhaps terminally — undermined its capacity to shape international opinions and regain strategic credibility. If that is the case, how can it initiate a new Cold War even if it wants to?
But Trump does want a war, even a Cold War. He wants one very, very badly. He tried to goad Syria into a conflict but he backed off when Russia got angry. He's been trying to scrap the deal with Iran as a pretext to invade but isn't smart enough to figure out how to invent a war the way Bush did. He's been trying to push North Korea into starting a war since almost the day he took office but hasn't been able to successfully bait the now-nuclear armed country. Trump's desperation for an armed conflict is so strong there's been talk of a preemptive strike on North Korea to help Republicans in the midterms. The White House denies this, of course, feigning outrage that anyone could suggest such a thing.
That outrage would sound more sincere if Trump hadn't just dumped his pick for South Korea's Ambassador because he opposed exactly this kind of attack in a private meeting.
Th bottom line is that Yan Xuetong is a party man through and through and considering China's repressive nature (the kind Trump openly longs for), he would not write this kind of op-ed without the full blessing and support of the Chinese government. They're not laughing at us, they're openly dismissive and that's even worse.
This isn't "Winning", this is losing on a grand scale and Republicans bear the full responsibility for it.