Less than a week before his inauguration US President-elect Donald Trump has made himself the target of Chinese state media editorials yet again after stating that the “one China” policy was up for negotiation.
“Everything is under negotiation, including ‘one China,'” Trump told The New York Times on Friday, hedging that such a change would not be immediate, saying “I would talk to them first.” However, Beijing has made it clear that there is nothing to talk about regarding the matter. In an unusual Sunday press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang stated that the “one China” policy was non-negotiable.
“There is but one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” Lu said. “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China. That is the fact acknowledged by the international community and no one can change.”
This incident follows more than a month of turbulent US-China relations. In early December, Trump broke more than 35 years of foreign policy protocol by speaking over the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Later in the month, he went on “Fox News Sunday,” and questioned whether the US really needs to abide by the “one China” policy at all, seemingly trying to use it as a bargaining chip in trade talks with Beijing.
Well, Chinese state media editorial writers appear to have now had enough of Trump’s waffling over China’s most-sacred policy. A China Daily editorial published on Sunday begins:
When it comes to tolerance, it is our tradition to display a big heart. That is why one can normally get away with making the same mistake twice, as one will be given the benefit of the doubt.
But one will seldom be given the benefit of the doubt twice, because doing the same wrong for a third time shows intent.
While hoping that Trump changes his tune on Taiwan upon assuming office and the heavy realities of his position set in, the editorial concedes that if the incoming administration continues to “use the one-China policy as its trump card” then China will be forced to play its hand as well
“If Trump is determined to use this gambit on taking office, a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves,” the editorial reads.
The always outlandish nationalistic Party tabloid, the Global Times, writes that Trump’s questioning of the “one China” policy has in fact brought “fear” to the island’s independence activists rather than hope.
Last week, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to move its trade mission from the Nigerian capital of Abuja to the commercial hub of Lagos after China pledged a $40 billion investment. Both countries have cast the move as one meant to “uphold the ‘one China’ policy.” The Global Times writes:
Taiwan’s pro-independence forces are like gamblers, and such trend is beyond their imagination. They bet on the US for their fate, thinking as long as they follow the US closely, like flirting a bit with Trump, they would gain some more space in the world. They are totally wrong.
For every bit of empty promise that the Taiwan’s pro-independence forces get from the US, we will make them pay the price; for every bit of “good news” they get, they will feel multiple fear. The Chinese mainland is wise and strong enough to turn the “lifeline” of pro-independence forces into a rope to strangle them.
Nigeria will not be the last country to put pressure on Taiwan. Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party will live in fear as long as they don’t recognize the 1992 Consensus and the one-China principle.
There are now just 21 countries in the world that maintain relations with the Republic of China after they yet lost another friend last month when the tiny West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed ties with Taipei and promptly reestablished relations with Beijing.
Where will that number stand in four years?
Matt Bonini contributed to this story
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