On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published an interview with President-elect Donald Trump in which he once again challenged the “One China” policy that regards Taiwan as a temporarily estranged province of China.
“Everything is under negotiation, including One China,” Trump stated.
This statement was guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest in Beijing, because the Chinese view acceptance of One China as a precondition for other negotiations. They have long been able to keep it completely off the table.
Chinese reactions to Trump’s comments on Taiwan have generally been mild so far, while state-run media unleashes scathing editorials blasting the President-elect and threatening dire consequences if he persists.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has grown more insistent upon officially warning Trump that One China is not up for negotiation. AFP quotes Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying warning that anyone who tries to negotiate Taiwan’s identity will face “common opposition” and will “shoot oneself in the foot.”
Chinese editorialists adopted a much more menacing tone, as usual. China Daily threatened Trump with “a period of fierce, damaging interactions,” because Beijing “will have no choice but to take off the gloves.”
The editorial congratulates the Chinese government for having a “big heart” and giving Trump the “benefit of the doubt” until now. However, the editorialists worry that the new U.S. president does not understand that Taiwan is “a Pandora’s Box of lethal potential.”
Not to be outdone, the Communist newspaper Global Times zoomed right past bare-knuckle boxing metaphors and went straight to the apocalypse: “Taiwan may be sacrificed as a result of this despicable strategy.”
“The Chinese mainland will be prompted to speed up Taiwan reunification and mercilessly combat those who advocate Taiwan’s independence,” huffed the Global Times, which declares it finds Trump “risible” and sneers at him for acting “stunningly confident in his ostensible knowledge of the job, though he speaks like a rookie.” The headline of the Global Times editorial, incidentally, is “Inexperienced, Complacent Trump Stuns Public.”
Another weekend post from the Global Times portrayed China as preparing for a “long-term struggle on the Taiwan question” with the new U.S. administration. This article was mostly a platform for Chinese academic Shi Yinhong to talk tough about the futility of Trump’s negotiating strategy:
“China cannot and will not offer anything in exchange for the one-China policy, and Trump must understand that,” Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University, told the Global Times.
“China’s clash with Trump on the Taiwan question will last as long as it takes. If Trump refuses to listen to what China has to say, China’s reaction will escalate accordingly,” Shi said.
He also noted that China will be closely watching what Trump does as president rather than what he has been saying.
As for the Taiwanese, President Tsai Ing-wen described her just-completed trip to Central America as a mission to “consolidate our state friendships and allow Taiwan to walk on the international stage.”
She was able to reach Central America because the United States refused to block her passage, as the Chinese government had demanded. Instead, Tsai enjoyed visits with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Governor Greg Abbott during her layover in Houston.