Beijing warns Trump on ‘One China pol­icy’

Asian gi­ant could back ‘forces hos­tile to US’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Beijing is­sued its first clear warn­ing yes­ter­day over Don­ald Trump’s fiery rhetoric, as state me­dia said the Asian gi­ant could back “forces hos­tile to the US” if the pres­i­dent-elect fol­lows through with threats to drop Wash­ing­ton’s One China pol­icy. It was the strong­est sig­nal yet from Chi­nese author­i­ties that aban­don­ing the One China pol­icy, which guides re­la­tions with self-rul­ing Tai­wan, would up­set decades of care­fully man­aged Sino-US re­la­tions and end co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the world’s top two economies.

Beijing has not con­trolled Tai­wan for more than 60 years but for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said it con­sid­ered the is­land a “core in­ter­est” that af­fected China’s sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. The One China pol­icy was the “po­lit­i­cal bedrock” for re­la­tions with the US, he added, and if it was “com­pro­mised or dis­rupted”, sound and steady growth in China-US re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion in ma­jor fields would be “out of the ques­tion”, he told re­porters. The com­ments came in re­sponse to Trump’s re­marks in an in­ter­view Sun­day that he did not see why Wash­ing­ton must “be bound by a One China pol­icy un­less we make a deal with China hav­ing to do with other things, in­clud­ing trade”.

He ve­he­mently de­fended tak­ing a call ear­lier this month from Tsai Ing-wen, the demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent of Tai­wan, which Beijing re­gards as a rogue prov­ince await­ing uni­fi­ca­tion. Al­though the United States is Tai­wan’s main ally and arms sup­plier, Wash­ing­ton has not had of­fi­cial diplo­matic re­la­tions with Taipei since 1979, when it switched recog­ni­tion to Beijing. Trump’s de­ci­sion to take the call broke with pro­to­col, and seemed to catch China’s Com­mu­nist Party lead­er­ship by sur­prise.

The of­fi­cial re­sponse was ini­tially muted, and state me­dia largely blamed Tai­wan for the phone call and ad­vo­cated a wait-and-see re­sponse. But the re­marks yes­ter­day were more pointed, and a com­men­tary in the na­tion­al­is­tic Global Times of­fered a more men­ac­ing warn­ing to Trump, call­ing him “as ig­no­rant of diplo­macy as a child”, in its Chi­nese-lan­guage ver­sion. If the US openly sup­ports Tai­wan’s in­de­pen­dence and ramps up arms sales to the is­land, it threat­ened, China could aid “forces hos­tile to the US”. “In re­sponse to Trump’s provo­ca­tions, Beijing could of­fer sup­port, even mil­i­tary as­sis­tance to US foes,” it said. “China would in­tro­duce a se­ries of new Tai­wan po­lices, and may not pri­ori­tise peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion over a mil­i­tary takeover.”

‘Novice’

De­spite the es­ca­la­tion in of­fi­cial rhetoric, many Chi­nese an­a­lysts still of­fer a note of re­straint, em­pha­siz­ing Trump’s back­ground in busi­ness, not pol­i­tics, and the pos­si­bil­ity his ac­tions in of­fice will take a softer line. “I think this could be his ne­go­ti­at­ing tech­nique be­cause he knows the Tai­wan is­sue is an ex­tremely sen­si­tive is­sue, an is­sue China is very con­cerned about,” Wu Xinbo, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai said. Trump was play­ing the card in hopes of win­ning con­ces­sions on trade, he said, ad­ding that China should not be “too ner­vous” nor should it re­act “too fiercely”. “We have to wait un­til af­ter he takes of­fice, then look again at his con­crete ac­tions.”

Trump last week ap­pointed Iowa Gov­er­nor Terry Branstad, who is per­son­ally ac­quainted with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, as am­bas­sador to Beijing, which hailed the nom­i­nee as a “friend of China”. A com­men­tary on the of­fi­cial Xinhua news ser­vice yes­ter­day com­pared the two coun­tries’ re­la­tions to peo­ple who “want to be close friends”. The US must know “where to draw the line”, it said, not­ing that pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents have set good ex­am­ples and “now the ball is in Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s court”. —AFP

BEIJING: This com­bi­na­tion of two photos shows US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump (left) and Tai­wan’s Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen. An of­fi­cial Chi­nese news­pa­per yes­ter­day called Don­ald Trump “as ig­no­rant as a child” af­ter the pres­i­dent-elect again sug­gested that he was re­con­sid­er­ing how Amer­ica deals with Tai­wan, one of the most sen­si­tive is­sues in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China. —AP

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