China has shown restraint in the face of provocations by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump over Taiwan, but if he continues after assuming office Beijing will “take off the gloves”, an official Chinese state-run newspaper said on Monday.
Trump broke with decades of precedent last month by taking a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and has since cast doubt on America’s commitment to a “One China” policy that recognizes the island as a part of China.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published late on Friday, Trump said the “One China” policy was up for negotiation. China’s foreign ministry said “One China” was the foundation of China-U.S. ties and was non-negotiable.
“If Trump is determined to use this gambit in taking office, a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves,” the English-language China Daily said.
The United States, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is part of it.
The China Daily said Beijing’s relatively measured response to Trump’s comments in the Wall Street Journal “can only come from a genuine, sincere wish that the less-than-desirable, yet by-and-large manageable, big picture of China-U.S. relations will not be derailed before Trump even enters office”.
But China should not count on the assumption that Trump’s Taiwan moves are “a pre-inauguration bluff, and instead be prepared for him to continue backing his bet”.
“It may be costly. But it will prove a worthy price to pay to make the next U.S. president aware of the special sensitivity, and serious consequences of his Taiwan game,” said the national daily.
Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20.