China lodges protest after Trump call
with Taiwan president
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[December 03, 2016]
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China lodged
a diplomatic protest on Saturday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump
spoke by phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, but blamed the
self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own for the "petty" move.
The 10-minute telephone call with Taiwan's leadership was the first by a
U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched
diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging
Taiwan as part of "one China".
China's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged "stern representations" with
what it called the "relevant U.S. side", urging the careful handling of
the Taiwan issue to avoid any unnecessary disturbances in ties.
"The one China principle is the political basis of the China-U.S.
relationship," it said.
The wording implied the protest had gone to the Trump camp, but the
ministry provided no explanation.
Speaking earlier, hours after Friday's telephone call, Chinese Foreign
Minister Wang Yi pointedly blamed Taiwan for the exchange, rather than
Trump, a billionaire businessman with little foreign policy experience.
"This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action, and cannot
change the 'one China' structure already formed by the international
community," Wang said at an academic forum in Beijing, China's Foreign
Ministry quoted him as saying.
"I believe that it won't change the longstanding 'one China' policy of
the United States government."
In comments at the same forum, Wang noted how quickly President Xi
Jinping and Trump had spoken by telephone after Trump's victory, and
that Trump had praised China as a great country.
Wang said that exchange had sent "a very positive signal about the
future development of Sino-U.S. relations", according to the ministry's
website. Taiwan was not mentioned in that call, according to an official
China's Taiwan Affairs Office also called the conversation a "petty"
move by Taiwan that does not change the island's status as part of
China. Beijing is resolute in opposing independence for Taiwan, it
Trump said on Twitter that Tsai had initiated the call he had with the
Taiwan president. "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me
congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!" he said.
Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, said: "Of course both sides agreed
ahead of time before making contact."
Trump and Tsai noted that "close economic, political and security ties
exist between Taiwan and the United States", the Trump transition team
said in a statement. Taiwan's presidential office said the two discussed
strengthening bilateral interactions and establishing closer
China considers Taiwan a wayward province and has never renounced the
use of force to bring it under its control. Relations between the two
sides have worsened since Tsai, who heads the pro-independence
Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in January.
Chinese state media downplayed the possibility of a major blow-up in
Beijing's relations with Washington as Trump prepares to assume office.
Influential state-run tabloid the Global Times said in an online
editorial that if Trump really overturned the "one China" principle upon
assuming office it would create such a crisis with China he'd have
little time to do anything else.
"We believe this is not something the shrewd Trump wants to do."
China's official Xinhua news agency said Trump needed to know Beijing
can be a "cooperative partner" as long as Washington respects China's
core interests, including the issue of Taiwan.
[to top of second column]
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the phone with U.S.
president-elect Donald Trump at her office in Taipei, Taiwan, in
this handout photo made available December 3, 2016. Taiwan
Presidential Office/Handout via REUTERS
"China and the United States are not destined rivals," it said in an
Washington remains Taiwan's most important political ally and sole
arms supplier, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the irony
of which was not lost on Trump.
"Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of
military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,"
Trump said in another tweet.
Trump has eschewed tradition in other calls with foreign leaders
since he won the U.S. election, prompting the White House to
encourage him to make use of the diplomatic expertise and counsel of
the State Department.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on CNN that Trump was "well
aware of what U.S. policy has been" on Taiwan.
Administration officials said Trump's team did not alert the White
House about the call ahead of time. The White House also said after
Trump's call that "longstanding policy" on China and Taiwan had not
Advisers to the Republican president-elect have indicated that he is
likely to take a more robust policy toward China than Obama, a
Democrat, and that Trump plans to boost the U.S. military in part in
response to China's increasing power in Asia. However, details of
his plans remain scant.
Trump lambasted China throughout the U.S. election campaign,
drumming up headlines with pledges to slap 45 percent tariffs on
imported Chinese goods and label the country a currency manipulator
on his first day in office.
Earlier this week, Trump spoke to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif and praised him, according to the Pakistani leader's office,
as a "terrific guy".
Islamabad and Washington have seen relations sour in recent years
over U.S. accusations that Pakistan shelters Islamist militants who
kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, a charge denied by the South
Trump also invited Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte to the White
House next year during what a Duterte aide said was a "very
engaging, animated" phone conversation. Duterte has openly insulted
Obama, who canceled a planned meeting with him in September.
A statement issued by Trump's transition team made no mention of the
(Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, David Alexander, Yara
Bayoumy, John Walcott, Arshad Mohammed, Eric Beech, Jeff Mason and
JR Wu; Writing by Jeff Mason and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by
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