Last week, a controversial phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen prompted backlash from China.
Things blew up to the extent that Beijing lodged a complaint with the United States, slamming Trump for going against decades-old diplomatic protocol. The U.S. president-elect made it all the worse by calling out the Chinese government’s policies pertaining to money and military might in the South China Sea dispute on his Twitter account.
Trump’s overall approach with respect to China was widely criticized as reckless. Even the Obama administration was left perplexed as to why he would go against the U.S.’ 40-year-old policy and speak to the Taiwanese president.
“I think it's hard to determine exactly what the aim was of the president-elect,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press conference.
However, it appears Trump’s behavior, particularly the chat with Tsai, wasn’t exactly reckless. It was, in fact, all part of a deliberate plan.
The Washington Post reports Trump’s phone call with Tsai was “planned weeks ahead by staffers and Taiwan specialists on both sides,” by sources privy to the matter.
“Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact,” Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, told Reuters.
Keeping the Post’s report into account, it appears Trump’s call to the Taiwanese president wasn’t exactly an example of lack of experience but a deliberate attempt to oppose U.S. foreign policy regarding China.
It’s also an indicator of the attitude of the incoming U.S. administration toward Beijing, which is hardly surprising considering Trump has always been critical of China.
However, people should remember that no matter how much Trump eviscerates Beijing on public forums, behind the scenes he still sells Chinese goods (because they are cheap and it helps his bottom line).
Therefore, it’s perhaps too soon to assume that President-elect Donald Trump will stand up to China once he takes office.