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Donald Trump

Beijing hits back at Trump: one-China principle is non-negotiable

Without it, there would be no grounds for Sino-US relations, foreign ministry says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2017, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 11:02am

Beijing hit back at US president-elect Donald Trump on the weekend, saying the one-China principle is non-negotiable.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said late on Saturday that the one-China principle was the political foundation for Sino-US ties.“It’s not negotiable. We urge relevant parties in the United States to recognise the high sensitivity of Taiwan issues, and to stick to the promise made by both political parties in the US over the years,” he said.

Lu called on the US to properly handle Taiwan issues to ensure cooperation and the stable development of relations between ­Beijing and Washington.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump said that until he saw progress from Beijing on its currency and trade practices, he would not commit to the US agreement with Beijing of not recognising Taiwan diplomatically, a policy known as “one China”.

For Trump, one China, like everything, is negotiable

It is not the first time Trump has challenged the policy – he questioned its validity following a phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen soon after his election. At that time, Beijing warned that there would be no grounds for Sino-US cooperation without the one-China principle.

Zhang Baohui, a security specialist at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said Trump would not really want to escalate tensions with Beijing, but China did not have much leverage over the incoming US president.

“Trump has been very smart. He is using the Taiwan issue as a bargaining chip with China,” Zhang said. “Trump has a relatively simple agenda. He cares only about the domestic economy. His issue is to create jobs. He believes that sorting out the trade ­issues with China can help him to create jobs inside the US.”

Zhang said China might give some trade concessions to the US and invest in US infrastructure.

“It’s more of a bargaining technique at the moment. It doesn’t feel likely Trump would want to escalate the situation,” he said.

Zhao Hai, from Tsinghua University’s National Strategy ­Institute, said Trump would “challenge all sorts of fundamental understandings and principles between China and the US”. “He will pressure China from all perspectives,” Zhao said. “But I don’t think [China] needs to retaliate against what he says or what he tweets. I don’t think his tough tone on China will go anywhere.”

Zhao said the US and China had to cooperate on issues in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, which would give Beijing leverage over the US