After Donald Trump’s surprise victory last month, the first serious question — both in the U.S. and around the globe — was: Will he actually do all that stuff? The answer appears to be tilting toward a, Well, Hell Yes, that is as surprising to some as the election itself.
The most blatant example so far of Trump carrying out his word on the global stage is his stance on China. Last week, he upended decades of diplomatic procedure to speak directly to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, a move that undermined the “One China” policy that has taken root since most of the international community recognized Beijing diplomatically decades ago. Then in an interview yesterday with Fox News, the U.S. president-elect publicly questioned this long-standing position, saying “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.”
Trump’s willingness to challenge the status quo has, for the moment, made him something of a hero among Taiwanese around the world.
It’s of course another story in Beijing. While there have been no tit-for-tat responses from President Xi Jinping, an editorial in the Chinese-language version of The Global Times, the Communist party’s mouthpiece, gave a brutal response, calling Trump “as ignorant as a child in terms of foreign policy.”
“The One China policy is not something that can be negotiated,” the paper wrote. “It seems Trump knows only about business. He thinks he can put a price on everything.” Another Chinese newspaper, the People’s Daily hinted at dire consequences for the island nation in an editorial that declared that Beijing would have no reason to “put peace above using force to take back Taiwan” should the U.S. drop the One China policy.
All of this would deeply affect bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing. “If this foundation is disturbed, there are no grounds to talk about further developing the healthy and stable relationship” between the two, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
The world is about to see if Donald Trump’s “Art of the Deal” can be applied to international diplomacy. The stakes couldn’t be higher.