Actions by Taiwan leader called ‘petty’
Beijing sees ulterior motive in Tsai’s plan to stop in US on way to Central America
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