U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is already making political waves before his term has even started. During an interview with Fox News, Trump let his thoughts and feelings in regards to the “One China” policy be known. Trump stated “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘One China’ police unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.” Possibly putting US-China relations in jeopardy for the first time in 40 years, since Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong re-established them in 1972.
The “One China” policy is based around not recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation. A major part of US-China relations was the U.S. accepting China’s stance and regarding Taiwan as a part of a one nation Chinese mainland. Trump may have put that 40 year relationship in jeopardy by accepting a phone call and having a conversation with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen. The first of any communications between a U.S. president or president-elect since 1979 when ties between the countries were severed. Trump defended his actions saying “I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put in to me, it was a very nice call. Short and why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?”
He went on to criticize China in a way that seemed like he was returning to his election campaign, telling Fox News “We’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing, and frankly with not helping us at all with North Korea.” These actions have left China’s leaders confused if nothing else, believing that they would be dealing with a more easily managed leader has cause them to have to take a step back and re-evaluate how they will deal with the new president elect and his hard-line approach to affairs.
One thing is for sure, China will show no compromise in regards to it’s position on the Taiwan issue and countries will either be able to have a diplomatic relationship with Beijing or Taipei, but not both. Although Trump’s mixed signals in regards to China are unclear as to what the future will hold, these recent actions certainly seem to point to Trump not being willing to live under other countries terms. Showing signs that if any “terms” are dictated, that it will be by him and no one else.
It certainly seems that the next presidential term will see 2 strong willed countries going head to head on some key issues, in the end one of them will surely back down. At this point though, we just can’t tell which one.