By Ryan Pickrell
President-elect Donald Trump’s repeated questioning of the “one China” policy has stirred “serious concerns” in China.
China’s foreign ministry warned that cooperation “is out of the question” if the U.S. refuses to accept the “one China” policy and respect China’s core interests.
The U.S. has embraced the one China Policy since 1972, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger met Chairman Mao Zedong. In 1978, Jimmy Carter recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only China.
U.S.-China tensions spiked after Trump accepted a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2. Chinese officials said an inexperienced Trump fell prey to a “petty trick” by Taiwan and called Trump a “diplomatic rookie.”
But, Trump revealed Sunday that he knew exactly what he was doing.
“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 in an interview with Fox News Sunday.
“China has noted the report and expresses serious concern about it. I want to stress that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and involves China’s core interests,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said during Monday’s press conference.
“Upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties. If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas is out of the question.”
Chinese media took an even more aggressive stance.
“If Trump abandons the ‘one China’ policy, is there any need for China to be the U.S.’s partner in most international affairs? If the US openly supports ‘Taiwan independence,’ or overtly sells weapons to Taiwan more, is there any need for Beijing to resist all kinds of forces hostile to the U.S.?” the Global Times argued, “Why can’t we openly support them, or secretly supply weapons to them?”
Another article asserted that China might “introduce a series of new Taiwan polices, and may not prioritize peaceful reunification over a military takeover if Trump [insists] on his provocations.”
“Trump is naïve to think he can use the One China policy as a bargaining chip to win economic benefits from China,” the article noted. “China needs to be fully armed and prepared to take a Sino-US roller coaster relationship together with Trump. And many others in the world will probably also need to fasten their seat belts.”
China is worried that Trump plans to leverage China’s non-negotiable core interests and is already considering possible means of retaliation.
Taiwan is “not something tradable,” Chu Shulong, the director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, explained to reporters. “China will act firmly. China can do a lot in bilateral relations, in regional and global affairs. I don’t think the U.S. will like it.”