Ac­tions by Tai­wan leader called ‘petty’

Bei­jing sees ul­te­rior mo­tive in Tsai’s plan to stop in US on way to Cen­tral Amer­ica

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By MO JINGXI and ZHAO HUANXIN

China’s For­eign Min­istry said Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing­wen’s planned tran­sit stop in the United States car­ries “ul­te­rior po­lit­i­cal in­ten­tions”, while an ex­pert warned that play­ing the Tai­wan card could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

Asked to com­ment on Bei­jing’s call for the US to pre­vent Tsai from pass­ing through the coun­try next month en route to her planned visit to Cen­tral Amer­ica, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Lu Kang said that “tran­sit diplo­macy” is among the “petty moves” em­ployed by Tai­wan’s leader, whose “ul­te­rior po­lit­i­cal in­ten­tions are clear for all to see”.

Lu re­it­er­ated that it has been com­monly rec­og­nized by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that Tai­wan is part of China, and that the one-China prin­ci­ple is the key po­lit­i­cal pre­con­di­tion for coun­tries to de­velop re­la­tions and co­op­er­ate with China.

Mean­while, Iowa Gov­er­nor Terry Branstad, an old friend of China, has been asked by pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to be am­bas­sador to China, me­dia re­ported.

Ear­lier on Wed­nes­day, when asked about the pos­si­ble ap­point­ment of Branstad, Lu said, “We wel­come him to play a greater role in ad­vanc­ing the devel­op­ment of China-US re­la­tions.”

“We are will­ing to work with who­ever re­ceives the po­si­tion and work to­gether to en­hance the Sino-US re­la­tion­ship in a healthy and steady way.”

Tsai is sched­uled to visit Gu­atemala on Jan 11 and 12, Reuters re­ported on Tues­day. Trump, who was named Time magazine’s Per­son of the Year on Wed­nes­day, will be in­au­gu­rated on Jan 20.

An ad­viser to Trump’s tran­si­tion team said he con­sid­ered it “very un­likely” there would be a meet­ing be­tween Tsai and Trump if she were to go through New York, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

How­ever, Li Haidong, a pro­fes­sor of US stud­ies at China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity, said Trump is un­pre­dictable.

“The Obama gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to send the sig­nal that Wash­ing­ton will not change its one-China pol­icy,” Li said. “On the con­trary, Trump is highly un­pre­dictable.”

It is un­likely that Tsai will meet with se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, Li said.

Trump might adopt risky poli­cies to­ward Tai­wan af­ter tak­ing of­fice, be­cause the po­lit­i­cal novice might not know well the sig­nif­i­cance of Tai­wan in China-US re­la­tions, and his ad­vis­ers might have a great im­pact on him, he added.

Ruan Zongze, vice-pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said Tsai is us­ing the US as a fo­cus to make a break­through from what he called her bad per­for­mance in of­fice, while Trump is test­ing China’s bot­tom line on Tai­wan.

“But the test is very dan­ger- ous, as China has made its stance very clear. More­over, China’s will and ca­pa­bil­ity to main­tain Tai­wan as part of China are un­prece­dented,” he said.

“Play­ing the Tai­wan card is fruit­less, and even coun­ter­pro­duc­tive,” he added.

US Se­na­tor Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut, a Demo­cratic mem­ber of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, tweeted on Tues­day, “Press­ing China on Tai­wan won’t likely bring them to (the) ta­ble on North Korea and cur­rency,” and this “risks back­ing them into a dark, nasty cor­ner”.

Iowa Gov­er­nor Terry Branstad has been asked to be am­bas­sador to China

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