The Headline that turned a two-part post into a three-parter was:
CHINA ADMONISHES “ROOKIE” TRUMP, THREATENS TO “TAKE OFF THE GLOVES” SOON
On December 4th I wrote a post titled Diplomacy? Who needs it, right? about Trump’s ill-conceived telephone conversation with Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, which was a diplomatic faux pas on every level. The U.S. does not recognize Taiwan and it was the first time since 1979 that a sitting or elected president has had direct contact with the Taiwan government. The Taiwan president called Trump, but sources on either side have indicated that the call had been planned several months prior, even before Trump won the electoral vote.
Last Friday, 13 January 2017, Trump did an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). (I cannot provide you with the transcript, as I am not a subscriber … to the tune of $199 per year! Other outlets charge from $1 to $8 monthly for unlimited access, and I do subscribe to a couple, including the New York Times, International Business Times, and Guardian, but I draw the line at $199 per annum. So, here is a link in case any of my readers are subscribers to the WSJ )
From the snippets I have been able to pick up from alternate sources, when asked if he supported the One-China policy Trump said, “Everything is under negotiation including One China.” In 1979, under President Jimmy Carter, the U.S.-P.R.C. (People’s Republic of China) Joint Communique agreed that the United States recognizes the communist leadership in Beijing as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is one China and Taiwan is a breakaway province that is part of China.
According to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, “The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches our core interests. Adherence to the One China principle serves as the political foundation for the development of China-U.S. ties. If this foundation is wobbled and weakened, then there is no possibility for the two countries to grow their relations in a sound and steady way and cooperate on key areas.”
Officially, the U.S. government does not support independence for Taiwan, now a democracy that elects its own president and parliament. Despite this, U.S. relations with the island are governed by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which outlines the U.S. commitment to help Taiwan maintain its military defense. Last year, the U.S. approved $1.8 billion in arms sales to Taipei. And the U.S. is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner and Taiwan ranks as the ninth-largest trading partner for the U.S.
While the relations between the U.S., China and Taiwan are complex and seem awkward, it is a relationship that has worked to the advantage of all for nearly four decades. Chinese President Xi Jinping met last week with Vice-President Joe Biden, saying:
“In the 38 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, relations between the two countries have weathered wind and rain, but generally have continued to forge ahead. The basic interests of the people of both countries and the world need China and the United States to work hard, to form a long-term, stable cooperative relationship.”
An excellent article in The Diplomat assesses recent diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, and the benefits of an ongoing relationship for both countries. While the relationship has never been easy and is often coloured by mistrust, we do share certain common interests and goals: a better environment, trade and economic benefits, and global peace. While the U.S. and China have different political systems, different ideologies, and very different cultures and histories, we have been able to work in key areas to the benefit of both. It is in the interest of neither country, nor the world, for the relationship, which is already tense, to deteriorate further.
To China, the One China policy is non-negotiable. It is fairly simple: we can have an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with China, but not if Trump officially recognizes Taiwan as an independent nation. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush (both Sr. and W.), Clinton and Obama have worked within the boundaries of the One China policy. The advantages of doing so far outweigh the disadvantages, not only for China and the U.S., but for the world. It is to be hoped that Trump’s advisors are intelligent enough to realize this, and that they can convince Trump of the wisdom of working with China rather than further antagonizing them.
It is hard to know exactly what is meant by the expression “taking the gloves off”. I suspect that each person who uses this phrase has their own definition. The broad definition: “to express the notion that something will be done in an uncompromising or brutal way, without compunction or hesitation.” Sound ominous? It should.
Also during the WSJ interview, Trump commented that the U.S. dollar was already “too strong” in part because China holds down its currency, the yuan. “Our companies can’t compete with them now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us,” he said. No worries, Mr. Trump … based in part on your comments, the dollar dropped 1.2% against 16 other currencies earlier this week!
In short, Donald Trump must learn to think before engaging either his mouth or his twitter finger, else the U.S. is likely to enter a recession that will make the recession of 2008 look like a day at the beach. He must learn to let the experts and people who understand foreign nations and policies take the lead, as he obviously does not understand them. Trump has business experience, he is a marketer, a wheeler-dealer, but this is not how relationships between nations work. Somebody please get this ‘man’ under control and educate him!