Beijing, Chin (BBN) – President-elect Donald Trump has questioned whether the US should continue its “One China” policy.
In 1979 the US cut formal relations with Taiwan and has since respected China’s stance, which sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province, reports BBC.
Trump said he saw no reason why that should continue without key concessions from Beijing.
His comments have provoked an angry response from Chinese state media.
An editorial in the Global Times warned him that the “One China policy cannot be traded”.
It comes after he took a phone call from Taiwan’s President, sparking a diplomatic row and a formal protest from Beijing.
Speaking in an interview with Fox News broadcast on Sunday, Trump said: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
Trump also said China was not co-operating with the US on its handling of its currency, on North Korea, or on tensions in the South China Sea.
No US president or president-elect had spoken directly to a Taiwanese leader for decades. But in the Fox interview, Trump said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader.
“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put into me,” Trump said. “It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?
“I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.”
In the same interview, Trump said he “doesn’t believe” a CIA assessment that Russian hackers tried to sway the US presidential election in his favour.
Trump went on to post a series of tweets criticising China for its exchange rate policy and its operations in the South China Sea.
His comments prompted an angry editorial in state media outlet Global Times, known for its hawkish rhetoric.
Titled ” Trump please listen clearly: The One China policy cannot be traded”, it labelled Trump’s move “a very childish rash act” and said he needed “to humbly learn about diplomacy”.
It also called for a strong response, saying: “China must resolutely battle Trump, only after a few serious rebuffs then will he truly understand that China and other global powers cannot be bullied.”
China has so far been restrained in its official responses to Trump, choosing instead to stress on the importance of Sino-US ties.
Its foreign ministry has said it would not comment on his tweets, although it has labelled the Trump-Tsai phone call a “petty trick” by Taiwan.
For China, it is difficult to think of a more important issue in its relations with other countries than the One China policy.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its own territory – and insists that all its diplomatic partners publicly share this view.
Former US President Jimmy Carter had to cut official ties with Taiwan before he could open an embassy in Beijing in 1979.
The policy has been the bedrock of Sino-American relations ever since.
Trump suggested the One China agreement could be used as a kind of bargaining chip in negotiations on other issues, such as trade.
But it is hard to image the circumstances in which that might be acceptable in Beijing.
China recently played down a telephone call between Trump and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.
But it will become increasingly alarmed if the US president-elect continues to suggest American policy towards China is about to change.