Taiwan 'should be wary of Trump antics'

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

Analysts say his remarks on 'one China' policy aimed at getting concessions but could harm cross-strait relations

Taiwan should not be "gleeful" about US President-elect Donald Trump's latest remarks, in which he questioned the value of the "one China" policy, say analysts here.

Mr Trump's tough talk is aimed at taunting China and pressuring Beijing to make trade concessions in future, but it could raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait and jeopardise cross-strait relations, they noted.

"Trump is using words to irritate China in the hope of getting China to come to the negotiating table, but the danger is that he is raising false hopes that he has Taiwan's interests at heart when in fact he does not," National Chengchi University political expert Yen Chen-shen said.

"Taiwan should be more wary about Trump's antics because the 'one China' policy is a sensitive issue. China will sacrifice all to defend its claim over Taiwan, even if it means resorting to military means," Professor Yen added.

Tamkang University political analyst Edward Chen I-Hsin said Mr Trump's comments would do Taiwan more harm than good.

"Even in the unlikely scenario that China makes any concessions during negotiations, Mr Trump will have no qualms selling Taiwan out. That is a lose-lose situation."

 
 

TRUMP'S INTERVIEW WITH FOX NEWS SUNDAY TOUCHED ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES:

ON CHINA 

I fully understand the "one China" policy. But I don't know why we have to be bound by a "one China" policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade. I mean, look, we're being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don't tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn't be doing.

ON THE TELEPHONE CALL WITH TAIWAN'S TSAI ING-WEN 

I don't want China dictating to me and this was a call put in to me. It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can't take a call? I think it actually would've been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.

ON NORTH KOREA

You have North Korea, you have nuclear weapons, and China could solve that problem. And they're not helping us at all.

ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE WITH THE U.S. ELECTION

I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse (by Democrats). I don't believe it.

ON CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BETWEEN HIS PRESIDENCY AND HIS COMPANY

I won't be involved in my business at all, even though I have a legal right to be, under the laws... My executives will run it with my children.

ON CLIMATE CHANGE

I think it's a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money. In the meantime, China is eating our lunch because they don't partake in all of the rules and regulations that we do. I'm still open-minded. Nobody really knows (whether climate change is real).

Mr Trump, in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, said he saw no reason why the US should continuing adhering to the "one China" policy unless Beijing was prepared to enter into some kind of bargain.

The "one China" principle, which acknowledges that Taiwan and mainland China are part of the same China, is a bedrock of Sino-US relations, which led Washington to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

Yesterday, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policymaking body, reiterated that Taipei regards Taiwan-US relations and cross-strait ties "as equally important".

Taiwan's Presidential Office has not commented on Mr Trump's remarks, which are likely to reignite a debate that erupted over a week ago when President Tsai Ing-wen and Mr Trump spoke on the phone, breaking with a nearly 40-year diplomatic tradition.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had dismissed the phone call as a "petty gambit" by Taiwan.

Ms Tsai later said no one should "over-interpret" the 10-minute call, which was merely a "congratulatory call" to Mr Trump.

Cross-strait ties have turned frosty since Ms Tsai took office in May and did not acknowledge the 1992 Consensus - a tacit agreement that there is only one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what it means.

Mr Trump's latest comments come after China's warplanes flew around Taiwan last weekend, as part of a training exercise, which observers say is an expression of Beijing's displeasure.

Former deputy defence minister Lin Chong-pin said the Tsai administration's reticence is noteworthy.

"Tsai has been very level-minded and sober about the call. Her measured response is an indication that Taiwan has not lost its compass. Anyway, Mr Trump is taking aim at Beijing, not Taiwan. I wouldn't be too worried."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan 'should be wary of Trump antics''. Print Edition | Subscribe