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  • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press conference, Sep. 27, 2016

    Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press conference, Sep. 27, 2016 | Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The People's Republic of China

Published 3 December 2016
Opinion

This is the first contact between U.S. and Taiwanese leaders since diplomatic ties were severed in 1979 and Washington established official ties with Beijing.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke established diplomatic protocol after speaking by phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, China has since lodged a diplomatic protest labeling the exchange "petty." 

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Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump transition team, confirmed that the call — the first such contact since President Jimmy Carter all but adopted the "one-China policy" in 1979 — had taken place.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Saturday stressed that the "one China principle is the political basis of the China-U.S. relationship." 

"We urge relevant U.S. side to honor the commitment to the one-China policy as well as the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, and cautiously and properly handleTaiwan-related issued to avoid and unnecessary disturbance to the bigger picture of the Sino-U.S. relations," said spokesperson Geng Shuang. 

The statement somewhat avoided blaming Trump, who has no previous political, yet alone foreign policy experience. The ministry, however, said that "this is just the Taiwan side engaging in petty action, and cannot change the 'one China' structure already formed by the international community."

This is the first contact between U.S. and Taiwanese leaders since diplomatic ties were severed in 1979 and Washington established official ties with Beijing.

Trump's transition team later issued a statement saying the two leaders noted that "close economic, political and security ties exist between Taiwan and the United States."

China considers Taiwan a province belonging to the Chinese republic. Since Defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949, China has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. 

China has become increasingly way of President Tsai, and her pro-independence ambitions after she was who was elected in January. 

According to Reuters on Friday, an official of Taiwan's representative office in Washington could not confirm the call but said it would be "historic." The official said the Washington office was not involved in setting up the call.

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It is still unclear whether the conversation marks a broader change in U.S. policy. China views Taiwan as a renegade province and have a zero tolerance attitude toward any country recognizing Taiwan.

Wang added that "I believe that it would change the longstanding  'one China' policy of the United States government."

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action of historic proportions,” said Evan Medeiros, former Asia director at the White House national security council to Financial Times.

Tsai Ing-wen was one of four world leaders reportedly contacted by Trump. The Philippines government also said Friday that Trump had invited the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, to visit the White House next year.

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