Donald Trump isn’t the American president yet, but every move he makes – whether intentional or accidental – already affects the U.S. So it’s a bit unsettling when Trump acts without realizing the consequences of those actions and shakes up international relations between the two largest economies in the world. Why is China so angry? What can the U.S. expect as a result of Trump’s latest action?
Trump Triggers China By Calling Taiwan. Is This Bad?
Last week, Donald Trump called Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen as “a courtesy”. The problem with that call is that the U.S. – along with China and much of the world – has not recognized Taiwan as an independent nation since the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter formalized the “One China” policy. That international policy grew from communist revolutionaries dethroning the nationalist government in 1949, with the nationalist government escaping to Taiwan. Both sides have laid claim to China ever since. As such, Trump managed to insult China and shake up international relations with just that one call. And in true Trump fashion, the president-elect took to Twitter to poke China even more.
Obviously, China is not happy.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry claims Trump was tricked by Taiwan into taking the call. The following day, China lodged a formal diplomatic protest with U.S. officials, citing the One China policy as the political basis of U.S./China relations. Trump tweeted out that Taiwan’s president called him, not the other way around, and he just happened to pick up. Except, a government spokesperson for Taiwan publicly stated that both sides had arranged the call in advance. Trump then went back to his Twitter battleground to tell the world it’s okay to accept the call because the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment.
The big question “many people” are asking is whether this was an isolated case of “oops, I had no idea”, or if this is what the country should expect under President Trump. What’s unnerving is that Trump did not bother reaching out to the State Department or Secretary of State John Kerry for guidance. He just winged it. Earlier in the week, Trump called Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a “terrific guy” and invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who called Obama a “son of a whore,” to visit Washington. Trump is welcome to shift foreign policy how he sees fit as president. Voters gave him that power. But these unplanned calls are complete u-turns, and could unsettle not only the country’s peace, but the economy as well through the loss of trading partners.
Now the world waits to see China’s response. China’s options include severing U.S. relations, punishing Taiwan’s businesses with trade embargoes, or even threaten U.S. companies, such as Apple, who rely heavily on Chinese manufacturing. The Chinese government could also start flexing its military muscle with the world’s largest army as a scare tactic. However, China will most likely do nothing – this time.
Watch Al Jazeera news about China's protest over Trump's Taiwan call.
Trump is the first president in history to come into office with zero political experience. He needs to spend a little less time on Twitter and more time understanding international policy and running a country.
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