China issues strongest rebuke yet to Trump over Taiwan

A newspaper headline with the illustration of US President-elect Donald Trump is pictured next to the flag of Taiwan in Taipei, Taiwan on Dec 12, 2016.
A newspaper headline with the illustration of US President-elect Donald Trump is pictured next to the flag of Taiwan in Taipei, Taiwan on Dec 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

Issuing its strongest rebuke thus far, China warned US President- elect Donald Trump that he will end up hurting himself if he tries to challenge Beijing's interests in Taiwan.

"I can tell you very clearly that... whoever tries to destroy the 'one China' principle and hurt China's core interest will be lifting a rock only to crush his own toes," Chinese media quoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying in Switzerland on Monday.

China is watching developments closely following the Dec 2 phone call between Mr Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, he added.

The reproach came after Mr Trump questioned the need for the United States to continue with the decades-old policy of recognising Taiwan as part of "one China".

In an interview with Fox TV on Sunday, he suggested that the US could "make a deal" with China, potentially on trade, in return for its continued adherence to the policy.

His phone conversation with Ms Tsai had sent shock waves through diplomatic circles as it was the first direct contact after Washington switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

The White House, too, distanced itself from Mr Trump's remarks, reiterating that the US is committed to the "one China" principle and will not use Taiwan to gain leverage in any dealings with Beijing.

 
 

China's English-language media continued to portray Mr Trump as an ignorant businessman who has to be warned repeatedly of the ill consequences of trying to bargain with Beijing on its core interests.

"Trump's bloated, and bloating, ego may prevent him from seeing that is the likely outcome that lies ahead if he persists with this gamble when he gets handed the baton of executive power," the official China Daily said in an editorial.

"Beijing should be prepared for the worst-case scenarios, particularly regarding Taiwan, as a presumptuous and ill-guided Trump looks set to usher in an era of turmoil", it said yesterday.

In chiding Mr Trump, the nationalistic Global Times said he "overestimated the US' capability of dominating the world and fails to understand the limitation of US powers in the current era".

China needs more imagination in its foreign policies when faced with an unpredictable Mr Trump, it said in an editorial yesterday.

"It should dare to make surprise moves and create a new pattern over the relationship with the US - while you play your game, I play mine," said the newspaper, which is linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

Even China's richest man, Mr Wang Jianlin, had a message for America's next top leader. The US will end up losing thousands of jobs, he said last Saturday. Mr Wang's conglomerate Wanda has invested more than US$10 billion (S$14.2 billion) in the US and employs more than 20,000 people there.

"If something goes wrong, these 20,000-plus people might be out of jobs," he was reported as saying.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'China issues strongest rebuke yet to Trump over Taiwan'. Print Edition | Subscribe