Author: China Daily ,
Posted on: Sunday 4th December, 2016
Friday’s phone call between Taiwan leader Tsai Ingwen and US President elect Donald Trump, which broke the nearly four decades of US diplomatic practice, came as a striking move but it does not bear the same importance as it seems to be.
For Trump, it exposed nothing but his and his transition team’s inexperience in dealingwith foreign affairs. If he could make the unusual action due to lack of proper understanding of SinoUS relations and crossStraits ties he will have to recognize the significance of prudently and appropriately addressing these sensitive issues after being inaugurated.
As US president, Trump undoubtedly shoulders responsibility to safeguard the interests of his country, which includes a healthy relationship with China. To do that, he cannot afford to damage the oneChina policy, which has been maintained by every US administration since 1979 to serve as the political foundation for bilateral ties.
As one of his Tweet posts shows, Trump knows the fact that “I should not accept a congratulatory call” although the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment. Whether in his position as a businessman or US president, Trump should also know that amount of money doesn’t mean he can sacrifice US ties with China, the US’ largest tradepartner with a bilateral trade volume of $558 billion in 2015, as well as the biggest holder of US treasury bonds of $1.19 trillion.
For Tsai, the phone call, a “petty gambit” as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called it, will bring nothing substantial but illusionary pride. If she managed to divert public outcry
from her bad performance, she will not succeed. Tsai has to face the cold reality of asagging approval rate and economic woes on the island after the media craze over the incident vanishes.
It would be a mistake if Tsai and her administration overinterpret the meaning of thephone call and believe it can induce a change in the US long-standing one-China policy. Actually, after the news of the phone call broke out, Ned Price, the White House National Security Council spokesman, assured on Friday evening that Washington remains firmlycommitted to the one China policy, which has been in place despite ups and downs in Sino-US ties. Given the strongest economic and people-to-people exchanges between thetwo countries at present, there is no reason for the Trump administration to break away from it.
Tsai should know the US’ fundamental interest lies in peaceful and stable cross-Straits tiesrather than the pro-independence push of her Democratic Progressive Party. If shecontinues to stir tensions in crossStraits relations, any attempt to win US support will bedoomed, as demonstrated by her DPP predecessor Chen Shuibian between 2000 and2008, no matter how many tricks she may try.