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Donald Trump

Any US shift away from one-China policy would by ‘exceedingly dangerous’, experts warn

Group of prominent China specialists and former officials caution that US President Donald Trump should be mindful of past lessons in approaching cross-strait ties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 11:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 11:43pm

A group of prominent China experts have called on US President Donald Trump to be tough on China on a variety of security and trade issues, but warn any radical change to US policy on China, especially the cross-strait status quo, could have dire consequences.

The experts expressed serious concern over the development of ties, which have been thrown into disarray since his election victory.

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Referring to Trump’s remarks on the sensitive question of Taiwan, the group of top China academics and former officials drawn from across the political spectrum said it would be “exceedingly dangerous” to abandon the one-China policy, which has served as the basis for Sino-US ties since 1979.

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“The incoming administration should be mindful of lessons from the past,” said the report, which was released on Tuesday. “No national interest is furthered by abandoning or conditioning this policy on other issues. To do so would very likely end up increasing Taiwan’s vulnerabilities, destabilising the Asia-Pacific region, and jeopardising broad US interests.”

The report, convened by the Asia Society and the University of California San Diego, includes the views of many influential China specialists, such as Orville Schell, Andrew Nathan, David Shambaugh and former officials including Susan Shirk, Kurt Campbell and Evan Medeiros.

US-China relations were at a “precarious crossroads”, they said. Beijing was “acting more assertively in Asia, more mercantilist in their economic strategies, and more authoritarian in their domestic politics”, while Trump was questioning long-held tenets of US policy on China, ones that both previous Republican and Democratic presidents had supported for decades, it said.

Beijing has been rattled by Trump’s attacks on the one-China policy and his promises to slap steep tariffs on Chinese imports.

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Huang Jing, an analyst at the National University of Singapore, said Trump was unlikely to accept the recommendations put forward in the report, which fell short of directly criticising Trump. “Despite some rather harsh remarks, the report is fairly positive on US-China relations because it repeatedly stressed the importance of continuing the past policy of engaging with China,” he said.

The report said the US should support diplomacy among territorial claimants in the South China Sea and maintain active naval and air presences to show it would resolutely respond to China’s use of force in disputes over the disputed area.

The experts said Trump should focus on North Korea instead of Taiwan and meet President Xi Jinping early on in his administration to seek Beijing’s collaboration to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.

“If China fails to respond and continues to frustrate efforts to pressure Pyongyang, the Trump administration must be prepared to impose secondary sanctions on Chinese banks, firms, and individuals still doing business with North Korea,” it said.

Additional reporting by Associated Press