Editorial Notes

Trump-Xi meeting is a challenge for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen: The China Post

US President Donald Trump is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday (April 6) for their first summit talks.
US President Donald Trump is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday (April 6) for their first summit talks. PHOTO: EPA

In its editorial on April 5, the paper says that US President Donald Trump's probable use of Taiwan as a bargaining chip in talks with his Chinese counterpart will pose challenges that President Tsai Ing-Wen will struggle to overcome.

TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, for two days from Thursday (April 6).

In their first-ever summit talks, they are not supposed to touch on the problem of Taiwan, which is a core interest of the People's Republic of China. On their agenda are Sino-American relations, where tensions are mounting over the Chinese thrust to the South China Sea and the deployment of the Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system in South Korea as well as Sino-American trade and Beijing's foreign exchange manipulation. However, the chances are that the summit meeting may signal a joint Sino-American control of the Taiwan independence movement.

North Korea started the Korean War in 1950, which has yet to be ended by a peace treaty. That war, however, saved Taiwan because the then US President Harry S. Truman made an about-face demarche to neutralise the Taiwan Strait to prevent Mao Zedong from washing Kuomintang (KMT) leader Chiang Kai-shek's Republic of China with blood.

Pyongyang has since been Japan's potential enemy and Uncle Sam is duty-bound by the US-Japan Mutual Security Agreement to deploy the Thaad system in South Korea to counter North Korean missile attacks on the old Land of the Rising Sun that ruled the Korean Peninsula as its colony for 35 years until the end of the Second World War in 1945.

President Xi's China is practically the only supporter of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the northern half of the peninsula. That is why Trump wishes to persuade the Chinese President to restrain Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of North Korea.

On the other hand, Xi will demand again that Trump adhere to Washington's "One China" policy and three joint communiques, one of which promises a gradual decrease in American sales of weapons and equipment till their end. But Trump is ready to order a huge sale of advanced defensive weapons and equipment to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

In negotiations, there are gives and takes. Trump wants to withhold the sale of weapons and equipment to Taiwan as a give in exchange for a take from Xi's promise to help keep peace with Japan and in the Korean Peninsula. China may offer a give by agreeing to stop the foreign exchange manipulation and reducing its huge surplus in trade with the United States to get a take in Washington's repeated official promise to adhere to its "One China" policy and three joint communiques. At any rate, Trump is determined to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Xi.

That bargaining chip will be used in aborting a fourth Sino-American joint communique to jointly control President Tsai Ing-wen's creeping Taiwan independence movement. The communique is said to strengthen American support for Taiwan in self-defence against armed confrontation with the People's Republic. It may take the form of a statement like the one President George W. Bush, Jr. made to help Taiwan defend itself against attacks from China.

What way out from this predicament does President Tsai have? To preclude the dumping as a bargaining chip, she must try to convince Trump that Taiwan can help the United States smooth over its conflicting differences with the People's Republic.

One more thing has to be done. Tsai has to prove that she is capable of maintaining the status quo in relations with China without accepting the so-called "1992 Consensus" per se, a modus vivendi under which both Taipei and Beijing are agreed that there is but one China whose connotations can be orally and separately enunciated. It is tantamount to a mission impossible at the time when the relations across the Taiwan Strait are in deep water while Taipei's foreign relations are in death water. But try she must.

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