As Long As It Gets Everything It Wants, China Will Play Nice With Trump

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Beijing is willing to “manage and control disputes” with President Donald Trump, but only if he gives China everything it wants.

Trump has upset China with his criticisms of the country’s questionable currency management and trade practices and activities in the South China Sea. But nothing has angered Beijing more than his questioning of the “non-negotiable” one-China principle, which China perceives as a “prerequisite for the development of relations between China and the rest of the world.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday it is open to engaging the new U.S. administration, but Trump will have to make certain concessions.

“We are willing, on the basis of strictly abiding by the ‘one China’ principle and respect of each other’s core interests, to have dialogue with the new U.S. government,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained.

China’s core interests include contested issues like the South China Sea.

China aims to “increase mutual trust, focus cooperation, manage and control disputes and promote the healthy development of China-U.S. relations, to bring even greater benefits to both peoples,” Wang added.

Trump’s phone conversation from the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in early December upset China; however, the country attributed the incident to a lack of understanding and diplomatic experience.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump said one week later, infuriating Beijing.

“Everything is under negotiation, including one China,” Trump said two weeks ago, pushing China a little further.

Trump’s administration has also threatened to put pressure on China in the South China Sea, where China is, according to Trump, building a “massive fortress.”

Comparing China’s activities in the South China Sea to “Russia’s taking of Crimea,” Trump’s secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson said that China is “taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s.”

“The U.S. is “going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” he explained during his confirmation hearing.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down during his first official press briefing. “I think the U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” he said.

“If those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” Spicer added.

China has warned Trump and his team to “speak and act cautiously.”

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