Donald Trump loves saying the word China! And now it seems one China isn’t enough for him.
That was Donald Trump on Fox News Sunday addressing questions on why he accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen. You see since the 1970’s the US and many other Western countries have only diplomatically recognized the People’s Republic of China, while maintaining unofficial ties with Taiwan – the island the Chinese nationalists fled to after losing the Chinese civil war in 1949. Taiwan’s official name is still the Republic of China.
This is known as the “One China Policy,” the policy was further cemented in 1992 when the governments of Taiwan and China agreed that there is only one China, but they choose to differ on how they view it. Taiwan thinks it’s them and Mainland China thinks it’s them. This is called the 1992 consensus, which isn’t really a consensus at all.
So all countries pick either one or the other to have official diplomatic ties with. As if it was some global popularity contest, all of the west picked China, but most Western countries maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan. This policy has formed the cornerstone of US relations with China and Taiwan since 1979.
But now it seems there is an opening for Taiwan, could Mr. Trump be telling China
Let’s take a look at some more of that Fox interview.
So while some were wondering, is Trump going to break with several decades of US policy and diplomatically recognize Taiwan, it could be that the president-elect sees Taiwan simply as his Trump card in a poker game with China? A bargaining chip to get China to do what he wants, such as allowing its currency to rise or scale back military assets in the South China Sea.
Just one problem, this bargaining chip has 23 million people living on it! Now before we start worrying for the people of Taiwan’s safety, let’s not forget that Mr. Trump isn’t an idiot, despite what many in the mainstream media would have you think. He understands the diplomatic and military balance between China and Taiwan, and the risks involved. He’s just not like other presidents, he’s um, special. He doesn’t seem to always think through the consequences of his words. Just this morning he knocked three billion dollars off the value of US defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s stock with one Tweet about the F-35. But I’m guessing the US will probably still be buying the F-35, since it would be incredibly costly and quite frankly insane to cancel.
It could be a similar situation with Taiwan, it is very unlikely that Trump would abandon Taiwan in favor of fairer US trade deals with China. It seems more likely that Trump will use the threat of establishing relations with Taiwan versus maintaining the status quo in his game with China, after all Trump loves games!
And it seems China doesn’t see the funny side. China’s state-run Global Times called Trump: “as ignorant as a child!”