Whether it was his plan all along or not, Donald Trump is now treating Taiwan as a negotiating piece in his diplomatic skirmish with China.
“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy,” the four-decade diplomatic truce between the U.S. and China to recognize democratic Taiwan as part of China, he told Fox News Sunday. “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.”
Dealmaking is what Trump thinks he does best from a career in real estate; he’s now trying to reshape those skills into a diplomatic policy.
On the Sunday show, Trump again railed against China for devaluing its currency, unfair tariffs for U.S. goods, building military operations in the South China Sea, and failing to reign in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
It appeared the President-elect was listing demands that China needed to meet in order for the U.S. to continue acting as if Taiwan belonged to China.
Publicly, China remained calm over Trump’s call with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month, which broke four decades of diplomatic protocol. A U.S. president had never publicly spoken to Taiwan’s leader.
But on Monday, the Chinese state press responded to Trump’s new statements in terse fashion. A Global Times editorial said China “could not be bullied,” while another article in English, targeting a foreign readership, said if Trump abandoned the ‘one China’ policy, “Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to U.S. foes.”
Still, Chinese officials themselves haven’t directly responded to Trump’s threatening stance.
China’s mild reaction may continue, as Chinese analysts have noted that Trump is not reshaping U.S. policy yet in his role as President-elect, and Trump’s inflammatory demands are being mixed with what China considers more positive news. China has called his choice of ambassador to China, the governor of Iowa Terry Branstad, an ‘old friend.’
The best negotiations make both sides happy.