With about two weeks left until his inauguration, many in America are growing more and more concerned with Donald Trump’s obsessive addiction to Twitter. Unsurprisingly, it is not sitting well inside the walls of the Great Hall of the People either.
Trump’s practice of carrying out foreign policy through the social media network is obviously at odds with China where Twitter has been officially blocked since 2009 and where the government prefers to control these sort of matters via long-winded official statements, pointed state media editorials and regular foreign ministry press conferences.
The president-elect gave China yet another headache on Monday evening after taking to Twitter to deny Kim Jong Un’s claim that North Korea was in the “final stage” of developing a nuclear missile capable of striking the American mainland.
“It won’t happen!” assured Trump before launching into yet another attack on the Middle Kingdom: “China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!”
China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won't help with North Korea. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang advised Trump to “avoid remarks and actions to escalate the situation,” and argued that China’s efforts in the matter were “widely recognized.”
Meanwhile, China’s official Xinhua news agency attacked Trump’s Twitter proclivity in an editorial titled “An obsession with ‘Twitter foreign policy’ is undesirable.” Chris Buckley of The New York Times translates:
“Everyone recognizes the common sense that foreign policy isn’t child’s play, and even less is it like doing business deals,” said the article, published after Mr. Trump’s latest barbed comments on China.
“Twitter shouldn’t become an instrument of foreign policy,” the article said. Earlier that day, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected Mr. Trump’s accusation that Beijing had coddled North Korea.
But the article acknowledged that it was probably too late to detach Mr. Trump from Twitter. Mr. Trump’s designated press secretary, Sean Spicer, has indicated that Mr. Trump will keep using the terse, punchy format after he settles in the White House.
“Issuing tweets has become a habit for Mr. Trump,” Xinhua noted. Mr. Trump, it said, appeared to assume that “issuing hard-line comments and taking up sensitive issues may perhaps add to his chips for negotiating with other countries.”
In December, Trump broke over 35 years of US foreign policy protocol by speaking over the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Later, he doubled-down on his decision by publicly questioning the “one China” policy, apparently in order to gain some leverage in trade negotiations with Beijing.
As for hard-line comments, last February, when he was asked by CBS This Morning talk-show hosts about the best course of dealing with North Korea’s nuclear threat, Trump responded:
I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.
I mean, this guy’s a bad dude, and don’t underestimate him. Any young guy who can take over from his father with all those generals and everybody else that probably want the position, this is not somebody to be underestimated.
China has control — absolute control — over North Korea. They don’t say it, but they do. And they should make that problem disappear. China is sucking us dry. They’re taking our money. They’re taking our jobs. They’re doing so much. We have rebuilt China with what they’ve taken out.
Maybe keeping him to 140 characters is a good idea?
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