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‘One China’ principle not negotiable, China tells Trump

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing in Beijing on Jan. 6, 2016.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing in Beijing on Jan. 6, 2016.
(Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)

Responding to remarks by President-elect Donald Trump, China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said that the country’s “one China” principle regarding Taiwan is not negotiable and that any attempt to reconsider the issue would be self-defeating.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that anyone attempting to use Taiwan’s status in a negotiation would be “smashing their feet by lifting a rock.”

“Not everything in the world can be bargained or traded off,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.

“Whoever attempts to harm the one-China principle out of any motive or uses the principle as a bargaining chip will definitely be facing broad and strong opposition from the Chinese government and people, as well as the international community,” Hua said.

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Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday that “everything is under negotiation, including ‘one China.’” It was the latest sign that Trump could shake up the U.S.-China relationship, particularly regarding Taiwan, which Beijing considers a core national interest.

The one-China principle holds that Taiwan is part of China and the communist government in Beijing is China’s sole legitimate government.

The U.S. acknowledged that stance when it formalized diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979 but continues to maintain robust unofficial ties with Taiwan. Washington also provides weaponry to the self-governing island to help it guard against China’s threat to use force to end their division, which dates to a civil war in 1949.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to upend that status quo since winning the November election.

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Also Monday, the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times published an editorial blasting Trump’s strategy and saying China would have a strong response to any reconsideration of Washington’s long-standing “one China” policy.

“In the past, Trump infuriated us, but now we find him risible,” said the tabloid, which is published by the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s newspaper. “With a skyrocketing ascent in his political life, he has been stunningly confident in his ostensible knowledge of the job, though he speaks like a rookie.”

China was already angered by Trump’s Dec. 2 phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken to the island’s leader in nearly four decades. Beijing considers any reference to a separate Taiwanese head of state to be a grave insult.

Trump then said in a television interview that he didn’t feel “bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

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On Sunday, Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said that “there are no plans to change the one-China policy.”

“But certainly that policy is on the table if China doesn’t also come to the table and work with us on trade, work with us on the South China Sea and what’s happening there,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.”

After criticizing China repeatedly during his campaign, Trump has continued to disparage China on his Twitter account over its military buildup in disputed areas of the South China Sea, its suspected currency manipulation to put American companies at a disadvantage, and what he says are its inadequate efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear program. He has also announced that a new White House trade council will be led by economist Peter Navarro, a sharp critic of Chinese economic policy who wrote a book titled “Death By China.”

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