An­a­lysts in frenzy af­ter Tai­wan call

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Emily Rauhala

bei­jing» On Fri­day, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping told Henry Kissinger that he hoped for “sta­bil­ity” in U.S.-China ties un­der the new ad­min­is­tra­tion. No­body told Don­ald Trump.

The pres­i­dent-elect broke with four decades of diplo­matic prac­tice by talk­ing on the phone Fri­day with Tai­wanese Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen, a breach of pro­to­col that could dis­rupt U.S.-China ties be­fore the in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The 10-minute phone call is be­lieved to be the first time that a U.S. pres­i­dent or pres­i­dent-elect and a Tai­wanese leader have spo­ken since the late 1970s.

It left Bei­jing fum­ing and China-watch­ers the world over won­der­ing, “Is this a slip-up or a ma­jor shift?”

The United States for­mally rec­og­nized the gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing as rep­re­sent­ing China in 1978 and has pur­sued a “One China” pol­icy since 1972, when then-Pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon vis­ited China. But although the U.S. gov­ern­ment ended of­fi­cial re­la­tions with Tai­wan in 1979, U.S. pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tions have main­tained un­of­fi­cial ties with Tai­wan, which has be­come a thriv­ing democ­racy in re­cent decades.

Bei­jing re­mains hy­per­sen­si­tive to ques­tions of Tai­wan’s sta­tus and is apt to treat any change in pro­to­col or pol­icy as a provo­ca­tion — even if it’s just a phone call.

A spokesman for China’s For­eign Min­istry said Satur­day that Bei­jing had lodged an of­fi­cial com­plaint with the United States. Asked about the in­ci­dent, For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi de­scribed the call as a “petty” move by Tsai. “The One China prin­ci­ple is the foun­da­tion for heathy de­vel­op­ment of Sino-U.S. re­la­tions. We don’t wish for any­thing to ob­struct or ruin this foun­da­tion,” Wang said.

Ex­perts pre­dicted con­tin­u­ing anger as Bei­jing takes stock over the week­end. “This is a heavy blow,” said Zhu Feng, dean of the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at Nan­jing Univer­sity.

Many ques­tions re­main about the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Trump and Tsai. The pres­i­dent-elect tweeted Fri­day that Tsai called him, rather than the other way around: “The Pres­i­dent of Tai­wan CALLED ME to­day to wish me con­grat­u­la­tions on win­ning the Pres­i­dency. Thank you!” and “In­ter­est­ing how the U.S. sells Tai­wan bil­lions of dol­lars of mil­i­tary equip­ment but I should not ac­cept a con­grat­u­la­tory call.”

But Tsai’s of­fice later said the call was ar­ranged in ad­vance by both sides.

An­a­lysts are di­vided on whether it rep­re­sented a mix-up be­tween the two gov­ern­ments or a more sig­nif­i­cant sig­nal.

“My guess is that Trump him­self doesn’t have clue,” said Bon­nie Glaser, a se­nior ad­viser for Asia at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies.

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