19 October 2018
Donald Trump has questioned Washington's long-standing policy on "one China". Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump has questioned Washington's long-standing policy on "one China". Photo: Reuters

Trump: US not necessarily bound by ‘one China’ policy

The United States doesn’t necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China”, president-elect Donald Trump said in an interview aired on Sunday.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but 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,” Trump told Fox News.

Questioning nearly four decades of policy in a move likely to antagonize Beijing, Trump also said that it isn’t up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader, Reuters reports.

“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put in to me,” Trump said. “It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?”

He was referring to his decision to accept a telephone call on Dec. 2 from Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen, a move that prompted a diplomatic protest from China. 

Trump’s call with Tsai was the first such contact with Taiwan by a US president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province.

After Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, senior White House aides spoke with Chinese officials to insist that Washington’s “one China” policy remains intact, the Obama administration said.

The outgoing administration also warned that progress made in the US relationship with China could be undermined by a “flaring up” of the Taiwan issue.

In the interview to Fox News Sunday, Trump criticized China over its currency policies, its activities in the South China Sea and its stance toward North Korea. 

“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,” Trump said.

“You have North Korea. You have nuclear weapons and China could solve that problem and they’re not helping us at all.”

Trump is considering John Bolton, a former Bush administration official who has urged a tougher line on Beijing, for a senior role at the US State Department, according to Reuters.

In a Wall Street Journal article last January, Bolton said the next US president should take bolder steps to halt China’ military aggressiveness in the South and East China seas.

The US should consider using a “diplomatic ladder of escalation” that could start with receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department and lead to restoring full diplomatic recognition, Bolton wrote.

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