China goes soft on its response to Trump’s Taiwan call


It was the first US-Taiwanese presidential contact since diplomatic relations were cut in 1979

The call with Tsai Ing-wen is believed to be the first between a US president or president-elect and a president of Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province, since diplomatic relations between Washington and the island were cut in 1979.

“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it had lodged “solemn representations with the US”.

In a barb directed at Mr Trump’s unprecedented pre-inauguration intervention in US relations with China, the foreign ministry urged “the relevant parties . . . to handle issues related to Taiwan with caution and care in order to avoid unnecessary interference with overall Sino-US relations”.

Although it is not clear if the Trump transition team intended the conversation to signal a broader change in US policy towards Taiwan, the call has ruffled feathers in Beijing.

In Taiwan, the call is being seen as a breakout move that could strengthen its hand as the two superpowers realign their relationship in Asia. Taiwan has been alarmed by China’s tightening political control in Hong Kong, the former British colony.

Saturday’s protest from Beijing marked an escalation from earlier comments by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, who appeared to blame Ms Tsai for the call. In an interview with a Hong Kong television station, Mr Wang dismissed the phone call as a “petty action” on Taiwan’s part.

“It is impossible to change the one-China situation that the international community has formed,” he added. “I also do not think it will change the one-China policy on which the US government has insisted over the years.”

Following a deluge of criticism over his move to talk to the Taiwanese president, Mr Trump tweeted: “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!”

The US has adopted the so-called One China policy since 1972 after the Nixon-Mao meetings and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter formally recognised Beijing as the sole government of China, with the US embassy closing in the capital Taipei the year after.

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