Sino-US relations

‘We’ll see’: Trump keeps door open to meeting Taiwan president

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 11:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2017, 11:17am

US president-elect Donald Trump has left open the possibility of meeting with Taiwan’s president if she visits the United States after he is sworn in on January 20.

In remarks to reporters upon entering a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump said, “We’ll see”, when pressed on whether he would meet Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president if she were to be in the United States at any point after he becomes president. Taiwan’s president will be in transit in Houston on January 7 and again will be in transit in San Francisco on January 13.

Beijing bristled when Trump, shortly after his November 8 victory, accepted a congratulatory telephone call from the Taiwan leader and has warned against steps that would upset the “one-China” policy China and the United States have maintained for decades.

Talk of a stop-over in the United States by the Taiwan president has further rattled Washington-Beijing relations.

Chinese mainland President Xi Jinping on Saturday warned that Beijing would not soften its stance on territorial integrity, as the Taiwanese leader Tsai said the self-ruled island could face uncertainties in the months ahead given the change in the US administration.

In a new year address shown on CCTV, Xi said Beijing was determined to protect the nation’s territorial and maritime rights. “Chinese people will not give in to whoever makes things up in ­respect to these issues,” he said.

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Tensions have grown since China suspended contacts with Tsai’s administration in June over her refusal to endorse China’s claim that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation.

Last, China’s first aircraft carrier and five other warships held drills that passed by Taiwan and sailed through the contested South China Sea, prompting Taipei to deploy fighter jets to monitor the fleet. China maintains a standing threat to use force to achieve its goal of absorbing Taiwan.

Trump advisers have also made conflicting statements about whether Trump’s call with Tsai signaled a new policy toward China but some analysts read it and other remarks critical of China as signals of a willingness to increase ties with Taiwan, which would further anger Beijing.

Additional reporting by Associated Press