Saturday, December 03, 2016

Will Trump Risk Conflict with China to Further His Business Empire in Taiwan?

Numerous posts on this blog and stories in the responsible segments of the media have focused on the coming problems of Donald Trump putting his business interest ahead of the national interest.  Given Trump's narcissism and egomania, like Louis IV once said - l'estat c'est moi - Trump views himself/his business' best interests as synonymous with America.  Not even yet in office Trump has triggered possible conflict with China through his telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan - most likely as part of Trump's plan to build luxury hotels in Taiwan.  Even the typically reactionary and GOP apologist Wall Street Journal is alarmed at this blunder.  There is a reason almost all of the experience personnel in the intelligence and foreign affairs circles of government opposed Trump during the just ended campaign.  Here are story highlights:
President-elect Donald Trump spoke with the president of Taiwan on Friday, a conversation that breaks with decades of U.S. policy and could well infuriate the Chinese government.
The conversation between Mr. Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen runs counter to the longstanding effort by Beijing to block any formal U.S. diplomatic relations with the island off China’s coast. Chinese leaders consider Taiwan a Chinese territory, not a sovereign nation.
The Trump transition team didn’t give many details of the discussion but said Mr. Trump spoke with the Taiwanese leader, “who offered her congratulations.”
The White House reacted quickly, moving to calm a potential diplomatic dilemma. Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said “there is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues” and that the U.S. remains “firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy based on the three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.”
“As President Obama has said, we are committed to ensuring the smoothest possible transition for the incoming administration,” Mr. Price said in a statement. “Every president, regardless of party, has benefited from the expertise and counsel of State Department on matters like these.”
The White House didn’t learn of Mr. Trump’s phone call until after it had taken place, a senior administration official said.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to the call as “a petty trick on the part of the Taiwan side,” according to a notice published on multiple Chinese news portals and attributed to the ministry. The conversation between Mr. Trump and Ms. Tsai “can’t in any way change the ‘One China’ structure that has already taken form in international society,” he said.
Reaction could be so severe as to include sanctions against U.S. companies, said Victor Shih, associate professor in the school of global policy and strategy at the University of California at San Diego.
“China and the U.S. have both worked very, very hard to create a status quo where Taiwan has de facto autonomy without any international legal standing,” he said. “And with one phone call—I think—Trump did in fact undermine the status quo quite a bit.”
China claims Taiwan as its territory, though the island hasn’t been governed by the mainland since a civil war more than 60 years ago. The U.S. gave up formal relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.
President Barack Obama has walked a fine line on the issue. China has lobbied his administration against agreeing to arms sales to Taiwan, but Mr. Obama has done so anyway. The most recent was in 2015 when the administration approved a $1.83 billion deal.
On Taiwan, unlike trade, China isn’t prepared to bargain. No Chinese leader could be seen backing down on the one issue that could realistically draw the U.S. and China into war; there is no political room to maneuver.
Mr. Trump’s relationship with China already was complicated by his insistence that he would take a tougher line on Chinese trade practices. He threatened during the campaign to slap tariffs on goods imported from China and to formally declare China a manipulator of its currency, a step that would carry economic penalties.
At the same time, though, Mr. Trump faces international problems on which he will need China’s help, including restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions but—more than anything else—restraining North Korea’s nuclear program.
Mr. Trump’s moves also have sparked concern that he believes he can engage with adversaries who have threatened allies in Europe and Asia, or with others even when the consequences may not be predictable.
Nicholas Burns, a longtime State Department official who worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations, criticized the call in a Twitter message. “Taking a call from Taiwan’s leader a significant mistake by Trump,” Mr. Burns said. “Is he listening to the State Department?”
 No, he is not listening to the State Department.  He is listening to his insatiable ego and greed.  America's best interests mean nothing to this man. #NotMyPresident.


Stephen said...

The Republican platform includes strong support of Taiwan. No part of Taiwan has ever been governed by the PRC, nor is there any connection of it or other islands governed by an actual democratic government with China. To be a part of China, it(/they) would have to be a part of Asia.

Besides being a real democracy (unlike the US or the PRC), Taiwan has a larger population than at least a third of the countries in the UN.

The name "Republic of China" was carried over with exiles from China, but the PRC would vociferously object to rectifying the name to "Republic of Taiwan."

I'm pretty sure that Xi Jiping could call the governor of a territory actually governed by the US, for instance, Puerto Rico, without such a flurry.

Stephen said...

Also, the then-government of China ceded Taiwan in 1895 to Japan. Japan renounced its claim before the 1953 peace treaty. The Q'ing (Manchu, not Han Chinese) dynasty never controlled the interior of the island, nor did any previous dynasty (Chinese or Mongol); the Japanese colonial government was the first to rule the entire island.