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