Just what we need
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
But the Taipei Times reported the call was arranged by Trump’s “Taiwan-friendly campaign staff after his aides briefed him on issues regarding Taiwan and the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”
China has reached out to the White House about the call, according to CNN.
The White House said in a statement later Friday that it remained “firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy,” which holds that Taiwan is part of China.
“Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations,” White House national security spokesman Ned Price said.
China’s foreign minister said in response to the call that China does “not want any interference or destruction” of the “one China” policy.
“I do not think it will change the one-China policy that the US government has insisted over the years. The one-China principle is the cornerstone of the healthy development of Sino-US relations,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement.
When I noted we had survived Nixon, Reagan with dementia, and W., I failed to take account of just what a gang of schoolchildren we have now moving toward the highest office in the land, and in the world.
And his magic powers are already waning:
You'll notice he doesn't say he's going to do anything about it.Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
This is bad; this is very, very bad:
In the short run, Mr. Trump has rattled the entire region. Representatives of several Asian countries contacted the White House on Saturday to express concern, according to a senior administration official.
“This is going to make real waves in Beijing,” said Bill Bishop, a veteran China watcher who runs the Sinocism newsletter from Washington DC. “I think we will see quite the reaction from Beijing … this will put relations from day one into a very difficult place.”And it's going to get worse:
Evan Medeiros, the Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times: “The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions.
“Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations.”
Whether it says it or not, China will regard this as a deeply destabilizing event not because the call materially changes U.S. support for Taiwan—it does not—but because it reveals the incoming Presidency to be volatile and unpredictable. In that sense, the Taiwan call is the latest indicator that Trump the President will be largely indistinguishable from Trump the candidate.
Trump has also shown himself to be highly exploitable on subjects that he does not grasp. He is surrounding himself with ideologically committed advisers who will seek to use those opportunities when they can. We should expect similar moments of exploitation to come on issues that Trump will regard as esoteric, such as the Middle East, health care, immigration, and entitlements.YOU But he sent out a tweet! What more do these people want?
In the longer term, officials in the Obama administration worry that the episode could not just ignite tensions across the Taiwan Strait but also inflame trade relations and embolden China in the South China Sea, where it has clashed with the Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbors over competing claims to reefs and shoals.
Shit, this is bad. And the people in Trump Tower don't even understand that:
Whether Mr. Trump views the call as the beginning of a change in approach toward Taiwan is not clear. A person close to him insisted that he was just being polite in taking Ms. Tsai’s call.God help us all. Seriously.