It’s just a little over a month before Donald Trump assumes the office but his foreign policy remains as disturbingly obscure as it was at the beginning of his presidential campaign.
Case in point: the president-elect recently drew China’s ire by questioning if the United States had to be bound by the bedrock “one China” policy, which is basically Beijing’s way of making its diplomatic peers disregard the self-ruled country of Taiwan that the communist nation claims as its own.
The statement came mere days after the incoming commander-in-chief held a telephone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen — the first high-level contact between the two nations since the 1970s — and topped it off by subsequently attacking China on Twitter.
“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” the billionaire baron said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
He also went on to criticize the Asian country, which just happens to be the world’s second largest economy, over a number of other policies.
“I mean, look, we're being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don't tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn't be doing, and frankly with not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump added. “You have North Korea. You have nuclear weapons, and China could solve that problem, and they're not helping us at all.”
As for that call with the Taiwanese leader …
“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put in to me. It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?” Trump continued. “I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.”
It’s ironic that the “disrespectful” comment is coming from the man who once bragged about forcefully molesting women (“grab ‘em by the p****”) and frequently insults members of minorities communities (he called Mexicans rapists — twice).
To put it simply, Trump is trying to use Taiwan to strong-arm China into some kind of trade bargain, which is something his predecessors have been wary of doing — possibly with good reasons.
Does Trump not know that China has stopped devaluing its currency or does he just not care that what he's saying isn't true?— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 11, 2016
Trump keeps talking about China's devaluation -- in fact, China has been trying to keep its currency from falling. #FoxNews— Steven Rattner (@SteveRattner) December 11, 2016
Meanwhile, Chinese media has slammed the loud-mouthed business mogul over his antagonistic behavior.
“The 'one China' policy cannot be bought and sold, Trump, it seems, only understands business and believes that everything has a price and that if he is strong enough he can buy and sell by force," said China's state-run Global Times newspaper in an editorial, describing the former reality TV star as a “child” who knows nothing about foreign policy.
It also ruled out negotiations on the "one China" policy as it would spark “a real crisis” and declared that China “cannot be bullied” and must “wage resolute struggle” against the president-elect.
“President-elect Trump is signaling a tougher position on China, showing a willingness to link economic and geopolitical issues in ways previous presidents were cautious about,” Leif-Eric Easley, an assistant professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, told Forbes.