China on Monday warned US President-elect Donald Trump that bilateral ties will be damaged if he “compromised” with ‘one-China policy’ by giving weightage to Taiwan, the strongest public condemnation by Beijing against his criticism of America’s long-standing policy towards the self-governing island.
“Adherence to one-China principle is the political bedrock of the China-US relations. If it is compromised or disrupted, the sound and steady growth of China-US relationship as well as bilateral cooperation in major fields would be out of question,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told a media briefing here while reacting to Trump’s comments.
“The Chinese side has noted the relevant report and is seriously concerned,” Geng said. China’s comments came a day after Trump in a television interview questioned the relevance of continuing the one-China policy if Beijing refuses to make any concessions on trade.
The US since 1979 has respected China’s stance on Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province.
But Trump said without concessions from China, he did not see why it should continue. Replying to a spate of questions over Trump’s comments, the first such by a US leader on Taiwan in recent years, Geng said, “I want to stress that the Taiwan question has a bearing on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is related to China’s core interests.”
But despite stern reaction with strong words, China has not lodged any diplomatic protest unlike few days back when Trump riled Beijing by holding a telephone talk with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which was an unprecedented move as no US leader has done it so far.
Geng said China wants that the new US administration and its leadership fully recognise the sensitivity of the Taiwan question, stick to one-China policy as well as principles established by the three joint communiques between China and US, and properly deal with Taiwan-related questions in a prudent manner so as not to disrupt or damage interests of the bilateral relationship.
The Chinese protest reportedly infuriated Trump further as Sunday night he came out with even sterner comments hinting that he may alter US’ decades old adherence to one-China policy by having low-key back-channel relationship with Taiwan.
He also said China was not cooperating with the US on its handling of its currency, on North Korea, or on tensions in the South China Sea. About his phone call with Tsai, Trump said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader. “I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me. It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call”. I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it,” he had said.
Significantly, the US President-elect’s provocative comments came after China’s State Councillor and top diplomat Yang Jiechi for the first time met Michael Flynn, who is Trump’s nominee for the post of National Security Adviser. Acknowledging the meeting in New York, Geng said the two sides exchanged views on mutual concern and bilateral ties.
While Trump’s phone call with Tsai surprised China, his comments came as a shock here raising concerns over how relations between the top two world economies will pan out in the Trump administration as China too is flexing muscles under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong.
A commentary by state-run Xinhua news agency said the one-China policy is part of the consensus that Chinese government and successive US administrations have honoured over past decades.
“No country is willing to bargain over core national interests, and China is no exception. China views the one-China principle as a bottom line and there is no room for any compromise,” it said.
The commentary said China can be a principal partner in cooperation with the new US administration, provided it respects China’s “core interests”. “Differences can also be managed by the two sides in a constructive manner,” it said.
“The world is watching Trump as he prepares to assume office. The new US administration needs to be rational and respectful, rather than impulsive,” it said.
“A country must be responsible for its commitments to other countries, and despite the change of government, the new US administration should act in accordance with the current framework of China-US ties, rather than ignoring it in an impulsive and self-deceiving way,” Xinhua said.
Hitting out at Trump for his comments, China’s hawkish tabloid Global Times said he might use the one-China policy, “the cornerstone of Sino-US relations, as a bargaining chip to peddle America’s short-term interests.”
“With Trump’s new remarks on Taiwan, many people marvelled at Trump’s commercial thinking and naivety for diplomacy. The One China policy has gone through the ages since the Richard Nixon administration. In addition, the policy has become a fundamental principle of international order. Leaders all around the world, including US leaders, understand the importance of the policy,” it said.
“Trump is naive to think he can use the One China policy as a bargaining chip to win economic benefits from China,” it said in an editorial.
“Eventually, those who advocate Taiwan independence will tremble. Taiwanese authorities may regret to being a pawn of Trump and his radical policies. And Tsai will refuse to answer Trump’s call some day. Nothing is impossible if the Trump administration goes too far,” it said.
“One-China policy is not for selling. Trump thinks that everything can be valued and, as long as his leverage is strong enough, he can sell or buy. If a price can be put on the US Constitution, will the American people sell their country’s constitution and implement the political systems of Saudi Arabia or Singapore?” the editorial said.
The daily warned that the ‘One-China’ policy has maintained peace and prosperity in Taiwan, and, if abandoned, cross-Straits ties would see a real storm.
“China would introduce a series of new Taiwan polices, and may not prioritise peaceful reunification over a military takeover if Trump insisted on his provocations,” it said.