With just over a month left until inauguration, the statements from the outgoing Obama Administration and the incoming Trump Administration are sending starkly different messages of certain key issues. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in China, with dueling reactions to Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s president.
Trump’s call was the first time an American president or president-elect spoke to Taiwan’s leader since 1979, when Jimmy Carter cut diplomatic ties with them. The call sparked a statement of criticism from China, and no small amount of hysteria from Obama Administration officials, who insisted it was a dangerous move.
Obama’s officials are now reassuring China that the “One China Policy” is completely intact, and that the Trump call does not portend any sort of shift in US policy, while at the same time admitting they don’t understand why Trump took the call at all.
That they don’t understand why Trump took the phone call speaks volumes about the meaninglessness of the assurances, as Trump’s campaign has insisted he has been planning this call for months, as part of an effort to underscore his break with the status quo.
Indeed, Trump adviser Stephen Moore, in a radio interview on the matter, declared Taiwan to be an ally, accused China of being a “bully,” and insisted that if China doesn’t like the phone call “screw ’em.” This too hardly suggests that US policy toward China will remain stable between administrations.