Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 12, 2016
F-16 being flown by Taiwan in drill to repel Chinese invasion
While every discussion about Russia includes a reminder from Trump that Putin has a collection of scary nuclear weapons and we’d really be better off playing on Team Kremlin, these warnings are mysteriously missing when he talks about China.
In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy — the diplomatic understanding that underpins ties between Washington and Beijing, and leaves China’s rival Taiwan on the diplomatic sidelines with the United States.
It could be that China didn’t get on board the Trump train early enough to buy a first class seat, or it may simply be that Trump is being manipulated by members of his own team and sharp players like 93-year-old Bob Dole. Whatever the source of Trump’s clumsy, undiplomatic efforts, he’s playing a game of brinkmanship that the Chinese may be more than willing to take over the edge.
Chinese officials warned Monday that relations with the U.S. may fall apart if President-elect Donald Trump does not respect China’s “core interests” going forward. The comments were made in response to Trump’s now-infamous phone call with Taiwan’s president.
Just in case that was too many characters for the tweet-centric Trump to adsorb, China drew him a picture.
The warning comes hours after reports emerged indicating China flew a nuclear-capable bomber over a disputed part of the South China Sea, in a move U.S. officials say was meant to send a message to Trump.
The US avoids war. Taiwan avoids war. China avoids war. And all it takes is everyone agreeing to a combination of positions that all three sides find distasteful.
When the U.S. normalized relations with China in 1979, it cut diplomatic and official ties with the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, recognized the mainland as the “sole legal government” of China, withdrew U.S. forces from Taiwan and allowed a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan to expire. The American position on the status of Taiwan island was left undefined.
That “undefined” space falls somewhere short of the Chinese position that “it’s all China,” but doesn’t acknowledge that Taiwan is it’s own nation. It’s a kind of agreement to disagree. It’s an extraordinarily complex set of positions, written and unwritten, where the US sells arms to a country it officially doesn’t acknowledge and promises to support both sides against aggression without admitting there are two sides.
Only Trump is not agreeing.
President-elect Donald Trump has just said that he considers America’s One China policy a bargaining chip, to be traded off against other things that the United States wants from China.
Trump believes he can use the One China policy, threatening to pull it away if China doesn’t give in on economic policies (though the specific policies that Trump names, such as how China values its currency, have not really existed except as right-wing talking points for years).
Trump’s position may seem bold, even admirable. But it actually puts significant constraints on US policy, and threatens to break the existing relationship with Taiwan that has continued outside of “official” diplomatic channels.
… U.S. policy toward Taiwan has been guided by America’s interests in the relationship with Taiwan, the PRC and Asia as a whole, rather than being constrained by Chinese charges of foreign interference in the nation’s domestic affairs. … For example, the U.S. and Taiwan have presences in each other’s countries that have diplomatic privileges and immunities. … There is a significant amount of mutual trade and investment; and according to the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is mandated to make available defensive arms to Taiwan, to maintain Taiwan’s capacity to resist any use of force or other coercion that would jeopardize its security and well-being, and after consultation between the president and Congress to “determine … appropriate action by the United States” if there is any such threat.
This is possibly the most subtle, tense, carefully maintained relationship anywhere in the world. But Donald Trump is treating it as something that can be handled in a tweet.
The reason this has not led to overt hostilities is because all sides have behaved with restraint to maintain a very fragile peace. They know full well how sensitive these differences are.
“They” leaves out one critical player.
Trump’s suggestion that One China is another bargaining chip, which the United States can play or not play as it likes, is both misleading and risky. On the one hand, it apparently misses the subtle, but extremely significant, differences between the American “one China policy” and the Chinese “one China principle.” On the other, it endangers the central tenet of American policy in the area — the maintenance of the status quo.
Would it help to point out to Donald Trump that China also has scary nuclear weapons? Are we sure he knows that?
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