Chinese state media calls out Donald Trump's foreign policy 'inexperience' over Taiwan gaffe

US leaders have long respected the One China principle in international relations 

Will Worley
Sunday 04 December 2016 10:21

China has blamed Donald Trump’s communication with the Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen on his foreign policy “inexperience”.

The China Daily, commonly regarded as a mouthpiece for Beijing, said: “For Trump, it exposed nothing but his and his transition team's inexperience in dealing with foreign affairs.”

But Mr Trump’s diplomatic gaffe – speaking with Ms Ing-wen and then tweeting about US military sales to Taiwan – has caused anger and uncertainty in Beijing.

The issue of Taiwan is a particularly sensitive one to the nationalistic Chinese government, which follows a ‘One China’ policy. Separate governance on the island, which calls itself the Republic of China, was established by nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek in 1949 after the Communist party took control of the mainland.

But Beijing officials have maintained the territory is part of greater China and seek unification – potentially by force.

The US and most other countries have kept relations with Taiwan informal and low key in order to stay on good terms with the Beijing government. For Beijing, the One China principle underlines its approach to international affairs.

However, Mr Trump ended those diplomatic norms on Saturday after he tweeted:

Although China's displeasure was immediately obvious, the government and state media response has been measured, especially for such a sensitive issue.

The Daily acknowledged Mr Trump’s remarks came as a “striking move” but it did not “bear the same importance as it seems to be.”

And while Chinese officials will be issuing a formal diplomatic complaint to the US, Foreign Minister Wang Yi placed the focus of blame on Taiwanese leaders for playing a "small trick".

Mr Wang's comment "is intended to give time for Trump to back away from or desist from moves to elevate treatment of Taiwan," said Douglas Paal, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, which unofficially represents U.S. interests in Taipei.

He continued: "China will watch carefully to see what he does. But Taiwan will be seen as in need of some form of punishment."

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