China has warned the incoming Trump administration that any attempt to challenge the “One China” policy could affect peace in the Taiwan Strait.
A Beijing spokesman said that interference may also damage developing US-China relations.
Under the “One China” policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.
Image source Flickr
However, Donald Trump has expressed doubts about continuing to abide by the policy.
The president-elect had already angered China by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, and then tweeting about it.
On December 12, China said it was “seriously concerned” by Donald Trump’s comments, and urged sensitivity around the issue.
However, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, went further on December 14, warning of more serious consequences.
He said: “Upholding the <<One China>> principle is the political basis of developing China-US relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted.”
An Fengshan’s comments came as Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, vowed the United States will keep challenging Beijing’s “assertive, aggressive behavior in the South China Sea”.
Speaking to Australian think tank the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Admiral Harry Harris said: “We will not allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally, no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea.
“We will co-operate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must.”
Beijing has been developing artificial islands capable of hosting military planes in the region.
The Chinese government also insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, despite rival claims from its South East Asian neighbors.
Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize the claims, and has sent warships into the area to assert the right to freedom of navigation.
Donald Trump has questioned whether the United States should continue its “One China” policy.
The 1979 policy has respected China’s stance on Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province.
However, the president-elect said that without concessions from Beijing on trade and other issues, he did not see why that should continue.
The US relations with China became strained when Donald Trump took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Donald Trump went on to post a series of tweets criticizing China for its exchange rate policy and its operations in the South China Sea.
Image source Flickr
Speaking in an interview with Fox News broadcast on December 11, Donald Trump said: “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.”
He also said China was not co-operating with the United States on its handling of its currency, on North Korea, or on tensions in the South China Sea.
In the same interview, Donald Trump said he “doesn’t believe” a CIA assessment that Russian hackers tried to sway the presidential election in his favor.
Donald Trump’s decision to take a phone call from the Taiwanese president earlier this month was a break with US diplomatic tradition and prompted a formal protest from China.
No US president or president-elect had spoken directly to a Taiwanese leader for decades.
In the Fox interview, Donald Trump said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader.
“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me,” he said.
“It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?
“I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.”
China’s foreign ministry says it has lodged a complaint with the US after Donald Trump spoke to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in a phone call.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. US policy set in 1979 cut all formal relations with Taiwan.
However, Donald Trump’s transition team said he and Tsai Ing-wen noted “close economic, political, and security ties” in a phone call.
China said it had lodged a “solemn representation” with Washington.
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, China urged the US “to cautiously, properly handle Taiwan issue to avoid unnecessary disturbance to Sino-US relations”.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the call as a “petty trick” by Taiwan, Chinese state media said.
Donald Trump tweeted on December 2 that Tsai Ing-wen had called Donald Trump to congratulate him on winning the US election.
His team said that the US president-elect had also congratulated Tsai Ing-wen on becoming the president of Taiwan last January.
It is highly unusual for a US president or president-elect to speak to a Taiwanese leader directly.
Following media reports pointing out the risks of angering China, Donald Trump tweeted: “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
The White House has said Donald Trump’s conversation does not signal any change in US policy. And according to media reports, the White House learned of the call only after it had happened.
Donald Trump’s spokeswoman said he was “well aware” of US policy towards Taiwan.
The split between China and Taiwan goes back to 1949, when the Republic of China (ROC) government fled the mainland to Taiwan. After 1945, it held China’s seat on the UN Security Council and was, for a while, recognized by many Western nations as the only Chinese government.
In 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing and the ROC government was forced out. Only a handful of countries now recognize Taiwan’s government.
The US cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, expressing its support for Beijing’s “One China” concept, which states that Taiwan is part of China.
China has hundreds of missiles pointing towards Taiwan, and has threatened to use force if it seeks independence.
President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide victory in the January 2016 election.
The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China. President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration does not accept the One China policy.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it opposed any official interaction or military contact between the US and Taiwan, according to the People’s Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the conversation between Donald Trump and Tsai Ing-wen was “just a petty trick by Taiwan” that he believed would not change US policy toward China, state media reported.
“The One China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-US relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged,” he was quoted as saying.
The comment was repeated in a formal statement by the Foreign Ministry reported by Xinhua.
Despite the cut in formal ties nearly four decades ago, the US has still maintained friendly non-official relations with Taiwan.
Following Donald Trump’s phone call, the White House said the US remained firmly committed to its “One China” policy.
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