Fears in Taiwan that Trump using it as a bargaining chip

The phone call between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has raised questions about whether the US is moving away from the "one China" policy.
The phone call between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has raised questions about whether the US is moving away from the "one China" policy. PHOTO: AFP

Local media reacted cautiously to the phone call between President Tsai Ing-wen and United States President-elect Donald Trump, with some questioning if this would benefit Taiwan.

While some commentaries, like one in the pro-independence Liberty Times, said it was a milestone in US-Taiwan ties, most played down its importance, saying it did not mean a change in US policy.

Some even said Mr Trump might be using Taiwan as a "pawn" in his negotiations with China.

The call - which Taiwan's presidential office said both sides had agreed on beforehand - was the first such call in nearly 40 years. The US switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

The call has raised questions about whether the US is moving away from the "one China" policy.

"What worries us most is that, in the guise of showing goodwill towards Taiwan, Trump is increasing the bargaining chips for his negotiations with China," wrote international relations academic Yen Chen-shen of National Chengchi University in Taiwan's China Times newspaper yesterday.

 
 

He said Mr Trump is challenging the traditional diplomatic consensus in Washington. "Trump has confessed he is a masterful negotiator. We can only hope he is not using this breakthrough in US-Taiwan ties as a pawn in his future talks with China."

Others have also questioned Mr Trump's motives.

"With a man like Trump - one who takes pride in his outsider status, his rejection of the 'establishment', his unpredictability and his lack of appreciation for diplomatic nuances - it cannot be certain if the call is a gesture of support for Taiwan or even if it is part of a coherent strategy," wrote Mr Alan Fong, deputy managing editor at Taiwan's English-language daily The China Post, in a commentary yesterday.

He said Mr Trump's move "could be him giving Beijing a slap to the face, as well as him relishing a moment of doing exactly what he was told not to, all at Taiwan's expense".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'Fears in Taiwan thatTrump using it as a bargaining chip'. Subscribe