(TibetanReview.net, Jan16, 2017) – As the date for his assumption of US presidency draws near, Donald Trump has reiterated Jan 13 that the ‘one China’ policy, seen as the bedrock of US-China relations since 1979, would be up for negotiation, like all other issues. However, China has made it clear that the policy is “non-negotiable”.
Trump has reiterated his remark in an interview with The Wall Street Journal which was published on Jan 13, saying, “everything is under negotiation, including ‘one China’.”
However, China’s foreign ministry Spokesman Lu Kang has made it clear Jan 15 that his government would have none of it. “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China,” the AP Jan 15 quoted Lu as saying in a statement. “That is the fact acknowledged by the international community and no one can change.”
The interview is seen as the latest indication by Trump that he will shake up the US-China relationship, particularly on Taiwan, which China considers a core national interest, along with other questionable claims such as about Tibet and almost the whole of the South China Sea being parts of Chinese territory since ancient times.
Earlier, on Dec 2, Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect publicly spoke to the de facto independent country’s head of state in nearly four decades. When criticized by China for it, Trump said in a television interview that he did not feel “bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized China during his campaign and continued to disparage it on his Twitter account over its military build-up in disputed areas of the South China Sea. He has accused it of manipulating its currency to put American companies at a disadvantage in trade and of not doing enough to curb North Korea’s nuclear program. He has also announced that a new White House trade council will be led by the economist Peter Navarro, a sharp critic of Chinese economic policy and the author of a book titled “Death By China”.
China often speaks through its academics to drive home its points while explaining its stand on issues not spoken out directly by it officially. In this connection, Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University, has been quoted as saying, “Trump has not taken office yet, so he is an ordinary person now. Therefore, there’s no need for China to take his remarks seriously or further respond to what he said.”
And Tang Yonghong, a professor at Xiamen University, has been quoted as saying that China needed to convince Trump that “if he wants to make money from the Chinese mainland, he must be a friend of China instead of being an enemy.”
“I think Trump is handling international relations, including Sino-US relations, with a businessman’s logic. He wants to see how China will respond to such provocation.”
Meanwhile, an official China.org.cn report Jan 15 cited Chinese scholars as having urged president-elect Donald Trump to commit to the longstanding One China policy through clear and predictable policies on China, in order to ensure smooth China-US relations under the incoming administration. The report said that speaking at a forum Jan 14, assessing China-US relations under a Trump presidency, some eminent Chinese scholars described the One China policy as the “bedrock” of China-US relations that should be upheld by the president-elect, indicating China would be unlikely to make concessions on this regard.
It cited Michael Pillsbury, a China advisor to Trump and the author of several books on China, as having also spoken at the Beijing forum, touching on six issues of most concern to China, namely, the One China Policy, Tibet, China’s border disputes with India, the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, disputes in the South China Sea and bilateral trade. He was reported to have then made it clear that the three historical communiqués between Beijing and Washington (published respectively in 1972, 1978 and 1982), all of which emphasized the One China policy, were not treaties and, therefore, had to be “refreshed or repeated” by every incoming US president.
This was reported to have been rejected by Yuan Peng, vice president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, with a retort that the communiqués were indeed “of binding nature” while asserting that all the previous American presidents had reaffirmed they would adhere to the One China policy, making it an “established rule” in American practice.
“If Mr Trump does not do so, China-US ties have no future and no prospect going forward,” he was reported to have stressed.
An Gang, a senior researcher with Pangoal Institution, the Beijing-based think tank hosting Saturday’s forum; and Ruan Zongze, the vice president and senior research fellow of the China Institute of International Studies, were also reported to have made similar retorts.