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.
Tsai Ing-wen has become Taiwan’s first female president after winning the island’s election on January 16.
The 59-year-old leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China.
In her victory speech, Tsai Ing-wen vowed to preserve the status quo in relations with China, adding Beijing must respect Taiwan’s democracy and both sides must ensure there are no provocations.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province – which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary – and is bound to be watching the election closely.
January 16 polls come just months after a historic meeting between the leaders of the two sides, the first in more than 60 years when outgoing Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying-jeou met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in November for talks that were seen as largely symbolic.
It is the flagging economy as well as Taiwan’s relationship with China that are the key issues for voters.
This is the second-ever victory for the DPP.
The first was by pro-independence advocate Chen Shui-bian – during his time as president between 2000 and 2008 tensions escalated with China.
Tsai Ing-wen has not made her stance clear. A former scholar, she has said she wants to “maintain [the] status quo” with China.
However, opponents say relations will deteriorate as she does not recognize the “one China” policy. She became chairwoman of the DPP in 2008, after it saw a string of corruption scandals.
Tsai Ing-wen lost a presidential bid in 2012 but has subsequently led the party to regional election victories. She has won increased support from the public partly because of widespread dissatisfaction over the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou’s handling of the economy and widening wealth gap.
Eric Chu, 54, is the mayor of New Taipei City and stepped up to become chairman of the party in October. The KMT is at risk of losing its majority in the legislature for the first time in history.
The former accounting professor is popular with young people in the party, but has not been able to change public opinion that is increasingly unhappy with the party’s friendly stance towards China and the island’s economic travails.
In 2014, hundreds of students occupied the parliament in the largest show of anti-Chinese sentiment on the island for years. Labeled the Sunflower Movement, protesters demanded more transparency in trade pacts negotiated with China.
Taiwan’s election has an unlikely third main protagonist – 16-year-old Chou Tzuyu of South Korean girl band Twice.
The Taiwanese singer has appeared in a video bowing and apologizing after being seen waving a Taiwan flag – in a row that has dominated local media coverage.
Chou Tzuyu said she felt “proud to be Chinese” and said there was “only one China” – but many on the island felt she had been coerced into saying sorry.
Presidential frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen insisted holding a Taiwan flag was “a legitimate expression of national identity”, however Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the row was being exploited to “stir up feelings”.
Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party has ditched Hung Hsiu-chu as its candidate for the island’s presidential election in January 2016.
At an emergency congress, party members voted overwhelmingly to drop Hung Hsiu-chu following a series of poor ratings in opinion polls.
Hung Hsiu-chu will be replaced by the KMT’s chairman, Eric Chu.
Before the decision, the two favorites for the presidential poll were, for the first time, both women.
Hung Hsiu-chu, the deputy parliament speaker, was the KMT’s first female candidate. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate is Tsai Ing-wen, who lost in the presidential race in 2012.
Taiwan has never had a female president.
Hung Hsiu-chu’s approval ratings were lagging far behind those of Tsai Ing-wen – partly because she had lost support by advocating stronger ties with China at a time when some Taiwanese voters are wary about the island becoming too close to Beijing.
Eric Chu, the mayor of suburban New Taipei City who is considered a moderate on China, has more experience in governing, leading many party members to hope he will stand a better chance against Tsai Ing-wen, despite his late entry in the race.
The KMT suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in 2014.
Taiwan’s outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou resigned as party chairman after the poll, which was widely seen as a rejection of his push for close ties with Beijing.
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