Trump Trump-fu’s China December 5, 2016Posted by geoff in News.
Trump freaked out the liberal press by taking a call from the president of Taiwan, the first time a president/president-elect talked directly with Taiwan since 1979. This was cited as evidence that Trump was an ignorant, clumsy fool with no appreciation for the subtle nuances of foreign policy.
But once again, Trump has performed an amazing act of Trump-fu.
He didn’t just freak out the liberal press, he freaked out China as well, putting it on the defensive and forcing it to scramble to reinforce a position it thought it had staked out more than 35 years ago. They just had a press conference on the subject:
Seeking to defuse any diplomatic tensions following Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, China’s Foreign Ministry said Mr. Trump’s people understand the importance of the issue to Beijing even as Trump took to Twitter to complain about Chinese economic and military policy.
“The whole world knows about the Chinese government’s position on the Taiwan issue.” ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a packed briefing room on Monday. He added that “Taiwan-related issues are the most important and sensitive part of the China-U.S relationship. We believe Trump’s transition team is very clear on that.”
By pushing back on Taiwan, just a bit, China is now understanding that future trade negotiations will be conducted with everything on the table, and that they could lose significant ground if they’re not prepared to make concessions. This has been reinforce by Trump’s weekend tweets, which have emphasized disparities in the US-China trade relationship.
In short, China has been spending time, energy, and political cachet to address a 10-minute phone call between a president and a man who hasn’t even taken office yet. He set China back on its heels and fired a warning shot across its bow.
And he did it for free.