US President Donald Trump said on January 14, 2017 that the One China policy is up for negotiation under his administration.
In response, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded Trump that the One China principle has been the non-negotiable political foundation for official Sino-US relations since January 1979 and it urged relevant parties in the US to recognize the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, which is central to the One China principle.
Trump should take note of the following points, otherwise the world including the US will end up in even deeper trouble.
First and foremost, Trump is a successful businessman. In 2016, Forbes listed him as the 324th wealthiest person in the world (113th in America), with a net worth of USD 4.5 billion. He basically belongs to what academics have termed as the neoliberal school of thought. He conceptualizes the world in terms of markets and contracts. His logic or national strategy is simple and straightforward, that is, if America can once again rise economically, the rest of the world can also benefit.
However, Trump still has to face the world-wide (neo-)Realists who primarily focus on aggrandizing power at various levels, be it global, regional, national, or local. Business people can usually be outmaneuvered by government officials and politicians everywhere.
We know that Trump had filed six bankruptcies in his career. The American president made the following remarks regarding his business failures: “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt... We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on The Apprentice. It’s not personal. It’s just business.” What the words mean is that he will not waste his time and effort to follow former President Barack Obama’s footsteps in sticking to the One China policy.
In November 2004, former Chinese President Hu Jintao used the phrase “core interests” and specifically mentioned that Taiwan is one of China’s core interests, which are interests that are considered fundamental for China’s survival and development. In November 2009, Obama made his first state visit to China and the American leader was reminded of China’s core interests. Hence, Beijing’s possible loss of Taiwan will be like Trump being unable to keep what he treasures, that is, the Trump Tower, which is the New York City headquarters for the Trump Organization.
If Trump succeeds in legally breaking up Taiwan and mainland China, would Beijing retaliate by providing moral support to Californians and native Hawaiians to declare independence?
Second, David Horowitz, who is a conservative thinker and a New York Times bestselling author, pointed out in his January 2017 book, Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, how the new president will radically change the US in his first 100 days in office, crippling the Democratic Party as a political force in America.
We have already seen protesters marching in American streets and some of them are really worried about the Trump agenda. There is no doubt that the US was politically divided before and after the November 2016 presidential election. Trump may well have to utter the catchy phrase, “One America,” as opposed to what he mentioned in his inaugural speech, “one nation,” in order to give his country a new lease in life.
Third, the 45th US President talks like a loose cannon. Trump has said that he knows what the One China policy is all about. No, he does not know enough about Chinese history in general, and the One China principle in particular. For example, any Chinese leader who lost an inch of Chinese territory would definitely be defined as eternally guilty by Chinese historians. As such, would President Xi Jinping and his successors dare to risk that?
If Trump succeeds in legally breaking up Taiwan and mainland China, would Beijing retaliate by providing moral support to Californians and native Hawaiians to formally declare de jure independence respectively? Californians will go to the polls in 2019 to decide by referendum if California should exit the Union. In November 1993, a joint congressional resolution apologized for the January 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and former President Bill Clinton signed the United States Public Law 103-150, also known as the “Apology Resolution,” for American involvement in the overthrow. The bill has been often cited as a major impetus for the Hawaiian independence campaign and sovereignty movement.
Last but not least, to stabilize the relationship between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, Trump should change the usage from One China policy to the One China principle, and Taipei can certainly progress well under the November 1992 consensus. The question is, does Trump have in mind two Chinas; One China, One Taiwan; or Taiwanese independence? If the US abandons the One China policy before a peaceful Chinese reunification, the situation in East Asia will definitely be unstable.
My sincere plea is that Trump should comply with the promise over the Taiwan issue made by successive administrations in the US over the years.