President-elect Donald Trump fired warning shots at China over the weekend – accusing Beijing of taking advantage of the U.S. – and indicating his administration will take a tougher line against the nation on a number of issues.
But the Obama administration spent the weekend meeting with Chinese officials and attempting to “reiterate and clarify the commitment of the United States to our longstanding China policy.”
Trump tweeted Sunday: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t take them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”
The tweets come after Trump took a Dec. 2 congratulatory phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen over China’s objection. China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will be reunited with China in the future. But Taiwan elected a president, Chen Shuiban, in 2000 who openly backed independence from China. The Taiwanese people re-elected him in 2004. China reacted by passing an anti-secession law in 2005, claiming it has the right to use “non-peaceful means” against Taiwan if the island asserts its independence. The current president, Ing-wen, leads the Democratic Progressive Party, which says Taiwan is a sovereign state. Taiwan now has a constitution, democratically elected leaders and its own armed forces consisting of 300,000 active troops.
The U.S. is Taiwan’s only ally. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter sought to improve diplomatic relations with China, and he ended formal U.S. diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. That year, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which established nondiplomatic relations with Taiwan while supplying the island with defensive weapons and warning China that any attack on Taiwan would be of “grave concern” to America.
Many mainstream media outlets have claimed the phone call between Trump and Ing-wen represents an effort to recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and could be “a blunder of historic proportions” that “may have just thrown decades of U.S.-China relations into disarray.” China’s Foreign minister Wang Yi called the move a “petty act” by Taiwan on Saturday and said it wouldn’t change U.S. policy toward China.
Evan Medeiros, former Asian director at the White House National Security Council, told the Financial Times, “The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions. Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for U.S.-China relations.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration tried to reassure China of the U.S. commitment to its current “One-China” policy this weekend.
Trump responded to his media critics by tweeting, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
But Gerrit van der Wees, former editor of Taiwan Communiqué, explained in the New York Daily News that the phone call actually represents “a major breakthrough for U.S. relations with the nation.”
“President-elect Trump’s phone call is significant because it does indicate he is bound less by anachronistic conventions and restrictions on relations with Taiwan, and is signaling a broader change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan. It would indeed be good if he would start a process towards more normal relations with Taiwan, treating it like our other friends and allies. This would actually also be good for China, as it could then move away from its outdated claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, and relax its rigid policy to try to isolate Taiwan internationally, and thus significantly reduce tensions in the region.
“It is too early to say how and how fast this will evolve, but Taiwan is certainly high on the radar screen of a number of key aides to Trump, who will fill positions in the new administration, and who has spoken out in favor of significant improvement of relations with Taiwan.”
As Fox News reported, a week before the phone call, China flew long-range nuclear-capable bombers over Taiwan.
“The escort jets were used to collect radar information and conduct other surveillance on American allies such as Japan,” Fox reported.
During his campaign for the White House, Trump frequently expressed his disdain for China’s policies toward the U.S. He accused China of manipulating its currency and taking advantage of the U.S. in trade agreements. Trump vowed to hold the nation accountable and renegotiate trade deals.
As WND reported, in May, Trump told an Indiana crowd that China has been allowed to essentially “rape” the U.S. when it comes to trade.
“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said in reference to the high number of China’s exports in comparison to those of the U.S. “That’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”
Trump vowed that policies will change when he is president.
“We’re going to turn it around,” he said. “And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China.”
Trump said he’s not “angry” with China, but he believes America’s leaders have been “grossly incompetent.”