Beijing warns Trump: One-China policy 'non-negotiable'

It also urges US President-elect to recognise 'high sensitivity' with which it views Taiwan

President-elect Donald Trump at his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, Nov 9, 2016.
President-elect Donald Trump at his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, Nov 9, 2016.PHOTO: NYTIMES

BEIJING • China's Foreign Ministry has said the one-China policy is not negotiable and urged US President- elect Donald Trump to recognise the "high sensitivity" with which it views Taiwan, a day after he hinted for the second time in a month at a reset of US-China ties.

Mr Trump was quoted by The Wall Street Journal late last Friday as saying he would commit to the one-China policy only after assessing the progress the world's second-largest economy makes on trade and currency issues.

Beijing regards the one-China principle as a bedrock policy, not the bargaining chip Mr Trump has suggested.

US President Barack Obama has warned his successor against lightly abandoning Washington's stance on the delicate topic.

In a statement issued late last Saturday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said: "The one-China principle, which is the political foundation of China-US relations, is non-negotiable.

"In order to avoid disruption to the sound and steady development of China-US relations and bilateral cooperation in key areas, we urge relevant parties in the US to fully recognise the high sensitivity of the Taiwan question, approach Taiwan-related issues with prudence, and honour the commitment made by all previous US administrations of both parties on adhering to the one-China policy."

Mr Trump has threatened to get tough with what he sees as unfair Chinese trade practices and, in his interview with The Wall Street Journal, suggested the one-China policy could become a bargaining chip.

"Everything is under negotiation, including one China," he said.

Mr Trump also defended his controversial call last month with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the interview with the Journal.

"We sold them US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) of military equipment last year. We can sell them US$2 billion of the latest and greatest military equipment, but we're not allowed to accept a phone call," he said.

His protocol-breaking phone call with Ms Tsai was the first such contact with Taiwan by a US president-elect or president since then US President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of "one China". The Dec 2 phone call drew a diplomatic protest from China.

A week later, the President-elect set off a diplomatic firestorm when he told Fox News: "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."

His comments drew an angry response from China. Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against moves to damage China's "core interests", saying "in the end they are lifting a rock only to drop it on their own feet".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing warns Trump: One-China policy 'non-negotiable''. Subscribe