Asia Reacts to President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders

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Since his election on November 9, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump has engaged in telephone calls with leaders in the Asia Pacific. A call that he had with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on December 2, 2016 was met with heated debate throughout the region.

UPDATE: In a December 12, 2016 interview with Fox News which brought up the phone call, President-elect Trump questioned the need for a "One China" policy. 

Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: AustraliaChinaJapanSouth KoreaTaiwan

AUSTRALIA

"Just as China needs to respect Australia's sovereignty, Australia needs to respect China's. Especially where we have explicit agreements. Over Taiwan, for example.If Trump wants a fight with China based on ideological phantasmagoria, Australia can't stop him. But we'd be crazy to abet him."

CHINA

"'China and the US have had many serious frictions and tensions after 1979, but no US president or president-elect has dared challenge the one-China policy. If Trump dares risk destabilizing the bilateral relationship, he will receive the strongest reaction from China which includes withdrawing its ambassador from the US, economic sanctions and military action.Since the consequences are extremely unimaginable, I believe Trump is talking nonsense again.'" - Shi Yinhong, Director, Center for American Studies, Renmin University

Four Chinese experts discuss how China should deal with President-elect Trump's recent telephone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. 

"The One China policy is not for selling. Trump thinks that everything can be valued and, as long as his leverage is strong enough, he can sell or buy. If a price can be put on the US Constitution, will the American people sell their country's constitution and implement the political systems of Saudi Arabia or Singapore? Trump needs to learn to handle foreign affairs modestly, especially the China-US relationship. More importantly, a hard struggle against Trump is needed to let him know that China and other world powers cannot be easily taken advantage of. If Trump gave up the One China policy, publicly supported Taiwan independence and wantonly sold weapons to Taiwan, China would have no grounds to partner with Washington on international affairs and contain forces hostile to the US. In response to Trump's provocations, Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to US foes."

Several Chinese experts weigh in on how China should respond to President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and subsequent tweets he sent over Twitter critiquing China.

"'We urge the relevant US side to honor the commitment to the one-China policy as well as the three Sino-US joint communiques, and cautiously and properly handle Taiwan-related issues to avoid any unnecessary disturbance to the bigger picture of Sino-US relations.'" - Geng Shuang, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson

"Given that Trump hasn’t yet been inaugurated, this incident can be counted as nothing buta despicable and petty move. Nevertheless, political influencers in both the U.S. andTaiwan intend to blow it out of portion. DPP, pro independence citizens and U.S. conservatives couldn’t wait to resume the old ruse of 'manipulating Taiwan to influenceChina.' Based on the tweets that Trump posted after the phone call, it seems he didn’t realize howserious the consequences were. Many more “petty moves” are likely to occur underTrump’s watch if the situation continues unchecked. Instead, it is necessary to emphasizethe common sense in the bilateral relationship between China and the U.S."

"Trump's reckless remarks against a major power show his lack of experience in diplomacy. He may have overestimated the power of the US. He may have already been obsessed with the power he is about to have a grip on, and wishes the whole world should follow his lead. He may also believe that if China, the biggest power after the US, is awed by Washington, it will solve all other problems. No matter what Trump thinks, China must be determined to upset his unreasonable requests at his early time in office, and fight back if his moves harm China's interests, regardless of the consequences to the dynamics of the Sino-US relationship. If China behaves soft-heartedly for the greater good of the bilateral ties, it will only embolden Trump to be more aggressive."

"For the moment, Trump may have failed to take the Taiwan question seriously or realize the sensitivity over the issue from the experience of his predecessors. However, if he ever makes an effort to promote US-Taiwan military relations or increase arms sales to the island, the mainland will without doubt oppose strongly. By then, a fierce competition between Beijing and Washington will be inevitable and Trump will be bound to comprehend what former US presidents have understood long before - the Taiwan question is far too sensitive and the bottom line set by the Chinese side can never be crossed."

"China should understand Trump has two faces. On the one hand, he is bluffing and unpredictable, and on the other, he has no plan to overturn international relationships, and will focus on US internal affairs to "make America great again." China should become skillful and tactful in dealing with the Trump government. China has solemnly protested about Trump's recklessness, and it should do more. It is inappropriate to target Trump since he is still a president-elect. China can punish the Tsai administration, as a way to convey a message to Trump. The Chinese mainland can let Taiwan lose one or two diplomatic allies as a punishment as well as a warning. The mainland can also strengthen its military deployment based on Anti-Secession Law against Taiwan in case of its independence."

"'I believe the call will not change the one-China policy the US has been observing over many years.'" - Wang Yi, China's Foreign Minister

"It would be a mistake if Tsai and her administration over-interpret the meaning of the phone call and believe it can induce a change in the US long-standing one-China policy.  [...] Tsai should know the US' fundamental interest lies in peaceful and stable cross-Straits ties rather than the pro-independence push of her Democratic Progressive Party. If she continues to stir tensions in cross-Straits relations, any attempt to win US support will be doomed, as demonstrated by her DPP predecessor Chen Shui-bian between 2000 and 2008, no matter how many tricks she may try."

"The Sino-US relationship was formed by the accumulation of interactions between the two societies over the past decades. It is closely connected with the two nation’s interests, which turned into a strong restraint to conflicts between the two sides. If Trump wants to overstep the One-China principle, he will destroy Sino-US ties. That means the current pattern between Beijing and Washington as well as international order will be overturned. We believe this is not what Trump wants. However, the DPP [Taiwan's ruling party the Democratic Progressive Party] is fascinated by the fantasy. Over the years, the Green camp has attached too much importance to Washington’s remarks, tone and attitudes. The DPP tends to jump for joy over tiny issues. Tsai’s administration might be elated right now. But the fact is Trump's taking of the call will not provide more opportunities for independent forces in Taiwan, nor will it help the island’s economic and social development and reverse Tsai’s difficulties in office for not acknowledging the 1992 Consensus."

JAPAN

"Normally you would expect a call with Taiwan to be kept secret, but the transition team actively publicized it," Nakayama said in an interview last week at his offices in Tokyo. "I take that as a good sign, that they are sending a signal that they are giving greater weight to free China, as opposed to Communist China. [...] Depending on how this pans out, things could change a lot for Japan, because we have a shared destiny with Taiwan.” - Yasuhide Nakayama, Deputy Chairman, Japan's Liberal Democratic Party

SOUTH KOREA

"As shown by his election-winning 'Make America great again' campaign pledge, Trump wants to be assertive with China, a superpower in its own right. Although Beijing called it a mistake, Trump's latest act should be taken as a calculated move to test the U.S.'s rival. Trump put China on the spot for stealing American jobs and vowed to slap hefty duties on Chinese imports. His hostile approach toward Beijing is set to spill over to territorial disputes in areas such as the South China Sea and hegemonic rows over the Korean Peninsula. Thereby, his phone call with Tsai is likely to presage more provocative acts by the U.S. after her takes office next month. The chance is that Korea will find itself sandwiched in a clash of interests between the two giants." 

"Conflicts between US and China have a major impact on the Korean Peninsula. The North Korean nuclear issue is a perfect example. Washington and Beijing’s strategic confrontation is one of the main reasons that situation has deteriorated so quickly over the past few years. Once frictions between them reach a certain point, it will be all but impossible to find a solution. The THAAD issue, which has recently led to what have seemed like retaliatory measures from China against South Korean companies, is also basically a product of this conflict. It may be pettiness from Beijing to pressure those businesses with tax audits and import regulations, but the THAAD issue is not going to be resolved either until distrust between Washington and Beijing subsides."

TAIWAN

"We understand that any Taiwanese leader, regardless of party, must garner favor with the United States for support — this has been a key policy for decades and will probably continue to be for years to come. But rather than play into perceptions of popular support, our government must carefully consider the real costs of 'recognition diplomacy.' [...] Trump's vocal questioning of the "one China" policy is a means for neoconservatives to gauge reactions, including those of Taipei. As the nation's leader, is Tsai Ing-wen prepared to bring Taiwan closer to the American sphere of influence? Is she prepared to further align Taiwan's military posture with American foreign policy goals, should the call come to do so?"

"'The diplomatic efforts Taiwan has made are not only for the interest of the nation, but also for regional peace, stability and prosperity' [...] 'Taiwan-US ties and cross-strait relations are both vital to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region. As far as Taiwan is concerned, they are equally important.'" - Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwanese President

"Jerry Shiao, the president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of New York, said the conversation shows the importance Trump attaches to Taiwan and Taiwan-U.S. relations, adding that he hopes the U.S. will continue to help Taiwan defend itself and two-way trade between Taiwan and the U.S. will continue to grow."

"'The KMT welcomes the call and appreciates the United States' support of Taiwan,' said Hu Wen-chi (胡文琦), deputy director of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee."

 

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to... Series

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's Trip to India and the Philippines
Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Donald Trump's Comments on Possible Nuclear Armament of Japan and South Korea
 Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 
 Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
 President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States
 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment
2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia 
 First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States
The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump

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