Donald Trump has now been in office for...okay, well, he’s still a month away from assuming office, but he’s already making changes.
Yes, turn and face the strain. Because for one, it looks like he might change 40 years of US diplomatic policy in regards to Taiwan—policy created in part to avoid having a war with China.
On Sunday, Trump questioned the “One China” policy. That’s the policy where both China and Taiwan agree that there’s only one China, but disagree on which one that one is.
And the US has its own one China policy where it also agrees that there’s only one China, but unlike China’s version, the US doesn’t recognize China’s authority over Taiwan. Whew.
You know what? Let’s just call it the Highlander policy. For clarity.
Anyway, let’s recap. Two weeks ago, Trump took a phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ying-wen. That’s the first time in 40 years a US president has spoken directly with a Taiwanese president. And that left many with mixed feelings.
Not the Chinese regime, though. They were very clear on how they felt. But even though they consider Taiwan just a breakaway province, they decided to just play it cool with Trump. Agree to disagree. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence also said it wasn’t a big deal.
Haha, well, now it’s tea time.
Here’s what China’s foreign ministry spokesman said in response. Or to quote him more accurately,
Expressing “serious concern” may not sound like the strongest language out there. But the Chinese Foreign Ministry always maintains an air of decorum and self restraint. Because the Chinese regime has state-run Global Times to express how it really feels.
Trump is “as ignorant as a child” it says. And “In response to Trump’s provocations, Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to US foes,” and may even start a war to retake Taiwan.
Of course, the Global Times is like the New York Post of Chinese state-run media. So while amusing, we shouldn’t read too much into what it says. It would be like freaking out every time a politician says something on Twitter.
People in Trump’s camp have balked at the idea of having to make concessions to the Chinese Communist Party. Stephen Moore, a former economic adviser to Donald Trump and chief economist of the The Heritage Foundation, lauded Trump’s decision.
And despite what President-Elect Trump says about the call with Taiwan being something he only heard about an hour before the call, reports from Trump’s transition team seem to show the call was actually months in the making, thanks to lobbyists like former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole, who may have been paid by Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese government has no comment on Trump’s remarks. Taiwan is in a tricky situation here. Trump seems to view the One China policy as a bargaining chip that the US can use to get China to cooperate on trade and other issues. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party views the policy as non-negotiable.
And while Taiwan may welcome more recognition and stronger support from the US, the country-slash-region is at risk if the boat gets rocked too much. In fact, a majority of Taiwanese want to keep the status quo with China forever.
Sure, they may not be formally recognized as a state right now, but at least those 1,600 missiles pointed at them aren’t firing.
So what’s next? Is Trump leading the US to war with China? Or is he standing up for Taiwan? And should we just rename the One China policy the Highlander policy instead? Tell me what you think in the comments below. Thanks for watching this episode of China Uncensored. Once again I’m your host Chris Chappell, see you next time.