The government of China decided Saturday that it should have a say in which world leaders speak with President-elect Donald Trump.
In the wake of Trump’s phone conversation Friday with Taiwan’s president, the Chinese government filed a formal protest with the Obama administration. China claims Taiwan is legally part of China and does not recognize Taiwan as a separate nation.
The U.S. dropped its official recognition of Taiwan in 1979 when it opened full diplomatic relations with China.
“We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States,” said a statement Saturday from China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. “I must point out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory … The ‘one China’ principle is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”
But if China was miffed, some Americans said Trump was doing the right thing to reach out to Taiwan.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 3, 2016
“Nobody in Beijing gets to dictate who we talk to. It’s ridiculous to think that the phone call upsets decades of anything,” said John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. whose name has been mentioned for a possible role in the Trump administration.
Bolton said there’s nothing wrong in shaking up the U.S. relationship with a nation that has been making “aggressive … belligerent claims in the South China Sea.”
“I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. “I have met with President Tsai twice and I’m confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States.”
The call provoked a wide range of reactions in America.
.@KellyannePolls says, in excuse, trump knew what he was doing when he called Taiwan prez. Does she not realize that’s worse than a mistake?
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 3, 2016
— Carrie ❤️America🇺🇸 (@carrieksada) December 3, 2016
China has been increasingly aggressive with us because they know we won’t do anything meaningful about it. I don’t mind Trump pushing back.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 2, 2016
The Obama administration noted that Trump’s call has no impact on current U.S.-China policy. However, experts said the 10-minute call has put China on notice that Trump may be difficult to pigeonhole.
“It serves notice to Beijing that Washington chooses to do what’s beneficial to Washington,” said Raymond Wu, managing director of a Taipei-based consulting firm. “It’ll do that whether it’s in terms of substantive issues or symbolic gestures.”
“This is a wake-up call for Beijing — we should buckle up for a pretty rocky six months or year in the China-U.S. relationship,” Wang Dong, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University. “There was a sort of delusion based on overly optimistic ideas about Trump. That should stop.”
Douglas H. Paal, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents American interests there, said it would not be surprising if the United States sold arms to Taiwan early in the Trump administration. Beijing’s reaction would depend on the price tag, the kinds of weapons sold and how the administration informed China of the sale, Mr. Paal said.
Reaction to Trump’s phone call was split along party lines.
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