China dismissed President-elect Donald Trump’s historic phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen as a “petty action” Saturday morning.
Tsai and Trump discussed various economic, political, and security aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship during a 10-minute call Friday.
The call between the two leaders is reportedly the first time a U.S. president or president-elect has spoken with a Taiwanese state leader since formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan were officially severed in 1979.
Tsai called Trump; however, the meeting was reportedly arranged by both sides in advance.
China is displeased with the sudden break in decades of protocol and diplomatic practice.
“This is but a petty action created by Taiwan. It can never change the ‘one China’ reality that has formed in international society,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked at a forum Saturday, according to The Straits Times. “The ‘one China’ principle is the cornerstone of a healthy Sino-U.S. relationship. We do not want this political foundation to be affected or destroyed by anything.”
Wang’s response, while relatively restrained, belies China’s concern.
“It must be stated that, there is only one China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government that represents China. Those are all facts recognized by the international community,” explained Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang.
“We urge the relevant U.S. side to honor the commitment to the one-China policy as well as the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, and cautiously and properly handle Taiwan-related issues to avoid any unnecessary disturbance to the bigger picture of the Sino-U.S. relations,” he added.
China’s state-run Global Times argued Trump fell prey to a “trick” by Taiwan.
“The fact is Taiwan made a petty gesture before Trump is sworn in, and Trump responded to it,” the tabloid asserted. “They know the only thing that can be done to the One-China policy is some marginalized tricks to serve their short-term interests.”
Taiwan has been a thorn in Beijing’s side for decades. China perceives Taiwan as a separatist province, a democratic threat undermining Beijing’s authoritarian leadership, and a roadblock on the path to unification.
Tsai’s pro-independence leanings and stated objections to the “one China” policy are disconcerting for China. Since Tsai’s election earlier this year, tension between Beijing and Taipei has mounted.
Taiwan’s international status is a sensitive issue for China.
China opposes any and all actions, such as the phone call between Tsai and Trump, that present Taiwan as an independent state with the ability to cultivate diplomatic ties to other countries. High-level exchanges, like the phone call, between Taiwan and other countries are regarded as provocations.
Some Chinese analysts believe that Trump’s phone conversation with Tsai may negatively influence U.S.-China relations.
“This is a very serious incident. Even though Mr. Trump has not been inaugurated, but given his position as president-elect, this is a very significant signal,” Beijing-based analyst Qiao Mu told The Straits Times, “I’m afraid the next four years will see testy relations between both countries.”
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