Donald Trump has said that as US president, he would be willing to see Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons. Both countries currently rely heavily on US security cover, with the US maintaining military bases in their territories. But Mr Trump believes that is putting too much pressure on the United States, and would prefer that both countries acquire nukes, so that US soldiers would withdraw.
While ostensibly, such a state of affairs is seen as anti-North Korea, it would also send alarm bells ringing in Beijing, because both Japan and South Korea are Beijing’s neighbours (and rivals), and China is just coming out of a history where she suffered terrible massacres from Japan – during the second World War).
China’s relationship with Japan can best be described as a civilized rivalry, and as she begins to rise, a more tempered Japan is what policy makers in Beijing want to see. But Trump seems to be promising a more militaristic Japan wielding the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
Such move, while sending worries to China would definitely distract it from its rivalry with the US, and focus it more on local rivalries with Japan and South Korea.
To US foreign policy hawks, that would be a short term master-stroke against China, but what of if irredentist nationalists seize the opportunity to rise again in Japan?
The Trump presidency if it happens, will certainly be very interesting.