China irked by Trump Tai­wan call Duterte: Trump hails Philip­pine drug crack­down

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump broke with decades of for­eign pol­icy to speak with the pres­i­dent of Tai­wan, prompt­ing Bei­jing yes­ter­day to ac­cuse Taipei of a ploy but say­ing the move would not af­fect US-China ties. It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether Trump’s tele­phone call with Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen marked a de­lib­er­ate pivot away from Wash­ing­ton’s of­fi­cial “One China” stance, but fu­elled fears he is im­pro­vis­ing on in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

China re­gards self-rul­ing Tai­wan as part of its own ter­ri­tory await­ing re­uni­fi­ca­tion un­der Bei­jing’s rule, and any US move that would im­ply sup­port for in­de­pen­dence would likely trig­ger fury.

Dur­ing Fri­day’s dis­cus­sion, Trump and Tsai noted “the close eco­nomic, politi­cal and se­cu­rity ties” be­tween Tai­wan and the United States, ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­den­t­elect’s of­fice. “Pres­i­dent-elect Trump also con­grat­u­lated Pres­i­dent Tsai on be­com­ing Pres­i­dent of Tai­wan ear­lier this year,” it said.

China - the tar­get of much bom­bas­tic rhetoric dur­ing Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign - la­beled the call a “ploy by the Tai­wan side that sim­ply can­not change... the One China frame­work”“I do not think it will change the one-China pol­icy that the US gov­ern­ment has in­sisted on ap­ply­ing over the years,” For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi told Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV, in a muted re­sponse. “The One China prin­ci­ple is the corner­stone of the healthy devel­op­ment of Sino-US re­la­tions, and we do not want any in­ter­fer­ence or dis­ap­pear­ance of this politi­cal foun­da­tion.”

As he came un­der fire for the move, Trump de­fended his de­ci­sion to speak with Tsai, say­ing the is­land’s pres­i­dent ini­ti­ated the call and brushed off the re­sult­ing crit­i­cism. “In­ter­est­ing how the US sells Tai­wan bil­lions of dol­lars of mil­i­tary equip­ment but I should not ac­cept a con­grat­u­la­tory call,”Trump tweeted.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s White House said the out­go­ing US ad­min­is­tra­tion had not changed its stance.

“He was quite sen­si­tive also to our worry about drugs. And he wishes me well... in my cam­paign and he said that... we are do­ing it as a sov­er­eign na­tion, the right way,” Duterte said in a video re­leased by his of­fice yes­ter­day. “He was wish­ing me suc­cess in my cam­paign against the drug prob­lem.” Duterte, 71, launched an un­prece­dented war on drugs that drew a wave of global crit­i­cism with Obama urg­ing the leader in Septem­ber to con­duct his cam­paign “the right way” fol­low­ing con­cerns over al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. Trump’s of­fice re­leased a brief state­ment fol­low­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, say­ing Duterte had con­grat­u­lated Trump and the two agreed to work to­gether closely.

Duterte won pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in May af­ter pledg­ing to kill tens of thou­sands of drug sus­pects, warn­ing that oth­er­wise the Philip­pines would turn into a narco-state. Since as­sum­ing of­fice, he has called on po­lice and even civil­ians to kill drug users. Duterte also said he would be “happy to slaugh­ter” three mil­lion drug ad­dicts, and likened his cam­paign to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s ef­forts to ex­ter­mi­nate Jews in Europe.

In Oc­to­ber Duterte an­nounced a “sep­a­ra­tion” from the United States and had called for the with­drawal of Amer­i­can troops from his coun­try, putting into ques­tion Manila’s 70-year-old al­liance with Wash­ing­ton. But yes­ter­day, Duterte said he “could sense a good rap­port” with an “an­i­mated” Trump. Duterte’s spokesman said the “un­der­stand­ing” be­tween the two lead­ers sig­nalled bet­ter Philip­pine-US ties. “We can say at this stage that our re­la­tion­ship with the US is im­prov­ing,” Ernesto Abella said.

Video re­leased by Duterte’s of­fice showed the Philip­pine leader laugh­ing as he chat­ted on the phone, later say­ing Trump would be “a good pres­i­dent for the United States of Amer­ica”. Duterte said the pres­i­dent-elect in­vited him to visit New York and Wash­ing­ton DC and he re­turned the fa­vor by ask­ing Trump to at­tend a re­gional sum­mit that the Philip­pines is set to host next year. “If I’m around, he wants to be no­ti­fied of my pres­ence,” Duterte said.— Agen­cies


(Left) Tai­wan’s Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen speaks with US Pres­i­dent-Elect Don­ald Trump through a speak­er­phone in Taipei on Fri­day. (Right) Philip­pines’ Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte ges­tures as he talks to Trump on the phone at Le­gaspi Suites in Davao City.

A tow boat trav­els along the Ohio River just be­fore sun­rise near Pa­d­u­cah, Ken­tucky on Fri­day. —

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