Donald Trump glided through several subjects during his visit to Fox News Sunday, which included a defense of his phone call with Taiwan that created an international ruckus. In the immediate aftermath of that call, a Chinese propaganda paper reportedly called him “ignorant as a child,” which does not bode well for China-U.S. relations.
To Fox News, Trump was defiant: “Why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?” he argued. “I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.” He also stated that the “one-China” principle shouldn’t be adhered to by the U.S. “unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
China was not pleased to hear Trump discount the “one-China” principle. Reuters reports that China’s Foreign Ministry has publicly stated that it will not cooperate with Washington D.C. if Trump refuses to “recognize Beijing’s core interest on Taiwan,” meaning that China would not be making any deals with Trump regarding trade or security, should he continue this pattern:
“China has noted the report and expresses serious concern about it. I want to stress that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and involves China’s core interests,” said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
“Upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties. If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas is out of the question,” Geng told a daily news briefing.
Geng also relayed that Trump advisers had — at some point — met with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, and that both sides had spoken about the “one-China” policy. This information was either not relayed to Trump, or he didn’t understand its importance in maintaining China-U.S. ties. However, Geng stressed that a refusal to recognize the policy would create potential for “ties being seriously interfered with or damaged.”
And China’s not simply talking here. This warning began on Sunday with a rather scary signal when China sent a long-range nuclear-capable bomber flying along the demarcation line of the South China Sea. The aircraft flew over multiple disputed islands in what was clearly meant as “show of force” and a message to the Trump administration, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Fox News:
The dramatic show of force was meant to send a message to the new administration, according to the officials. It marks the second time Beijing flew bombers in the region since Trump was elected.
Even more concerning for the Pentagon, China has been seen by American intelligence satellites preparing to ship more advanced surface-to-air missiles to its contested islands in the South China Sea.
Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, and he’s shaking up the globe. Much of the weekend eyebrow-raising revolved around Trump’s brush off of the Russia matter and how he doesn’t feel like he needs daily intelligence briefings (and he may not pay attention to the ones he does receive). Add this China tension into the mix, and hoo boy.