President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to pressure China by cozying up with Russia took a hit last week when Mr. Trump admitted the U.S. Intelligence Community was right to pin pre-election hacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. Now, after China’s state-owned tabloid threatened the incoming president, Plan B may also be in jeopardy.
After Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen touched down Sunday in Houston, Texas and spoke with Republican officials, Chinese government-owned tabloid Global Times warned Trump that China would take revenge, according to Reuters.
“If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining,” the Global Times’ editors write.
Since 1973, when President Richard Nixon first visited the Chinese mainland, the U.S. has employed a so-called One China policy, meaning all diplomatic relations have been conducted with Beijing’s communist government, not Taiwan.
Last month, Mr. Trump set about disrupting four decades of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China when he took a planned phone call from President Tsai. It was the first time in 40 years that a U.S. political figure had spoken to Taiwanese leadership, which embodies the exiled former government of China.
By breaking that tradition, some political analysts wrote that Trump could be working to pressure China into concessions on foreign policy. But, God forbid Mr. Trump is too brazen with his position on the One China subject (like he would ever be), it appears he could jeopardize yet a second ally in his gambit to pressure China into more favorable trade deals.
China’s official response to that first phone call was muted, but after President Tsai’s Houston visit, the communist government appears less than amused. While American’s may not take much stock in China’s political bluster, Taiwanese citizens are legitimately concerned.
Many in Taiwan are worried about the prospect of an upset Chinese neighbor, The New York Times reported last month. The People’s Republic of China is Taiwan’s single greatest trading partner by volume, and economic sanctions could weaken Ms. Tsai’s presidency.
The Chinese tabloid appears to be suggesting just this strategy.
“Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes,” the Global Times’ writes.
The propaganda paper went on to suggest that the Chinese government (it’s owner) impose economic sanctions against Taiwan and even threatened military force and reunification.
Certainly, if Mr. Trump had taken a quieter approach to his detente with Taiwan, the state-owned tabloid wouldn’t have the back story to effectively threaten worried Taiwanese citizens into submission. Further complicating the issue is son Eric Trump’s plans to build a hotel in Taiwan.
Big talk might have earned the Trump brand brownie points from his supporters on the campaign trail. This is one of many examples where such a mouthy strategy could backfire on the world stage.