In a statement clearly directed at President-elect Donald Trump, the White House today declared President Obama to be “firmly committed” to the “One China” policy, insisting that he will remain so for the rest of his time in office, which is about a month.
White House officials also spurned Trump’s comments on trying to negotiate a better deal with China on trade, warning that the “One China” policy must never be used as a “bargaining chip,” and that Trump’s comments could have a “disruptive” effect on Sino-American relations.
Bizarrely, White House spokesman Josh Earnest claimed Taiwan is a “close partner” to the United States, and accused Trump of planning to “bargain away” Taiwan in negotiations with China.
In reality, the United States has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 1979, and the anger at Trump was because he dared to take a phone call from the Taiwanese president. Trump’s position gave no hint he was going to “bargain away” Taiwan, but rather suggested he conditioned the status quo on resolving disagreements with China.
In taking the phone call in the first place, Trump underscored the folly of the status quo, in which the US heavily arms Taiwan and pledges military aid for them, but officially doesn’t recognize their existence and can’t even talk to them on the phone. The Obama Administration may go out of its way to fault Trump and to commit itself to the status quo, but in practice the “One China” policy would not be able to survive a president that doesn’t want to keep the pretense up.