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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Trump taking hits at the Dragon Kingdom

It is still not clear for how much longer, the world will find out about US policies from President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter handle. But it is becoming increasingly apparent, that this handle needs to be taken away from his twitchy fingers. The latest series of tweets about China being a currency manipulator and questioning its maritime policies has the Chinese press up in arms asking for Beijing to respond. On Friday 2, December, thanks to Donald Trump’s tweets we found out that he had taken a call and apparently spoke for 10 minutes to President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, going against a US policy, held for the past 4 decades, that recognizes one-China. The Taiwan Central News Agency stated that the former President, Edwin Feulner, of the conservative US think tank, Heritage Foundation helped to set up the call between the two countries leaders. It is still not clear whether this was a signal of a change in policy by the new incoming administration or incompetence by his team in allowing the call to be taken by him. But, Mike Pence, elect vice-president, said it should be viewed as a courtesy call only and nothing more.

The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!

The Chinese quickly lodged diplomatic protests, Geng Shuang, a ministry spokesman, made a statement, “It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing China.” Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV also reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday 4, December, that the call between Taiwan’s president and Trump was “just a small trick by Taiwan” and a “petty action.”

However apparently upset by the Chinese reaction to this call, Donald Trump sent out stringent series of tweets on Sunday 4, December:

Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into..

Chinese officials have not yet responded to the latest series of tweets, however, Global News, a state run paper has written an editorial stating that “Trump’s reckless remarks against a major power show his lack of experience in diplomacy.” The editorial recommended that China should take an assertive position against Trump, “If China behaves soft-heartedly for the greater good of the bilateral ties, it will only embolden Trump to be more aggressive.” The Communist Party’s official paper, Peoples Daily talked of Trump’s “unscrupulous actions have set off alarms for the development of bilateral ties.”

While, the White House has tried to downplay the comments, other Democrats have been more vociferous, reacting sharply to Trump’s tweets. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut warned that Trump’s “major pivots in foreign policy” are “how wars start”:

(2) What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start.

Given Trump’s strident comments on China and trade wars during his campaign trail, Chinese officials are not keen on further escalating friction between the countries, during this period up to his taking over as President. They along with the rest of the world are now looking keenly at his choice for the secretary of state, for an indication of how the relationship between the two countries may span out. Trump has not yet announced his pick for secretary of state, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and retired Gen. David Petraeus are all said to be in the running. The Chinese are most likely to be routing for Petraeus, who was quoted last year at the USC Price School of Public Policy conference as being complimentary of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying that he might be the most significant Chinese leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.