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Beijing faces decision on how to respond to Trump’s tweets

  • FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, a front page of a Chinese newspaper with a photo of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the headline "Outsider counter attack" is displayed at a newsstand in Beijing, China. With Trump's latest tweets touching on sensitive issues, China must decide how to handle an incoming American president who relishes confrontation and whose online statements appear to foreshadow shifts in foreign policy. China awoke Monday, Dec. 5, to criticism from Trump on Twitter, days after it responded to his telephone conversation with Taiwan's president by accusing the Taiwanese of playing a "little trick" on Trump. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING >> With Donald Trump’s latest tweets touching on highly sensitive issues, China must decide how to handle an incoming American president who relishes confrontation and whose online statements appear to foreshadow shifts in foreign policy.

China awoke Monday to sharp criticism from Trump on Twitter, days after it responded to his telephone conversation with Taiwan’s president by accusing the Taiwanese of playing a “little trick” on Trump.

Trump wrote, “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete, heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”

That was apparently prompted by China’s response to Trump’s Friday talk with Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect had spoken to Taiwan’s leader since the U.S. broke off formal diplomatic relations in 1979.

The U.S. and Taiwan retain strong unofficial ties, and the U.S. sells weapons to the self-governing island. But American leaders have for decades avoided any official recognition in deference to China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory — to be captured by force if necessary. Trump’s reference in another tweet to Tsai as “the President of Taiwan” was sure to inflame China, which considers any reference to Taiwan having a president as a grave insult.

China’s reaction was relatively low-key and seemed to offer Trump a face-saving way out of an apparent blunder by blaming the Taiwanese side. English-language commentaries then appeared in two state-run newspapers known to be used by China’s ruling Communist Party leadership to send messages abroad.

“Trump might be looking for some opportunities by making waves,” said the Global Times in a Monday editorial headlined, “Talk to Trump, punish Tsai administration.”

“However, he has zero diplomatic experience and is unaware of the repercussions of shaking up Sino-US relations,” the newspaper said. “It is certain that Trump doesn’t want a showdown with China, because it is not his ambition, and neither was it included in his promise to the electorate. He puts out feelers to sound China out and chalk up some petty benefits.”

China’s response was characteristically coded. But it now faces an incoming president who deals in outspoken tweets, not communiques.

Trump used a platform banned by censors in mainland China to renew several of his criticisms during the U.S. presidential campaign. Some of his arguments aren’t true.

Taiwan’s official Central News Agency, citing anonymous sources on Saturday, said that Edwin Feulner, founder of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, was a “crucial figure” in setting up communication channels between the sides.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday that the phone call shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a shift in U.S. policy. He shrugged off the attention to the incident as media hype.

“It was a courtesy call,” Pence told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Trump’s conversation does not signal any change to long-standing U.S. policy on cross-strait issues — although some in Taiwan expressed hopes for strong U.S. support from the incoming administration.

In terms of Trump’s criticisms, Chinese imports are taxed at standard U.S. rates, while Washington has recently slapped painful punitive tariffs on Chinese steel, solar panels and other goods.

And while China once kept a tight grip on the value of the yuan, also known as the renminbi, it now allows it to trade within a bandwidth 2 percent above or below a daily target set by the People’s Bank of China.

The yuan is currently trading at around a six-year low against the dollar. But economists now conclude that the currency is more or less properly valued in relation to the dollar and other foreign currencies. And with economic growth slowing considerably and more Chinese trying to move money out of the country, the government is now spending massively to hold up the yuan’s value rather than depressing it as Trump and other critics accuse it of doing. It has also imposed strict controls on Chinese moving money out of the country.

China has built up its military and constructed man-made islands in the South China Sea, and made sweeping territorial claims over almost the entire critical waterway. Those claims were broadly rejected in June by an international tribunal in The Hague.

The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately comment to Trump’s latest comments.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at People’s University in Beijing, predicted China would not lash out immediately, but calibrate its response over the next several months after Trump enters the White House.

“Trump’s remarks will certainly raise the concerns of Chinese leaders,” Shi said. “But at the moment, they will be restrained and watch his moves closely.”

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  • It’s clear the Chinese will not be disrespectful to Trump as they were to Obama. Many world leaders seem to lack respect for Obama and view him as a weak president. If Obama really cared about the country, he would have stepped aside 4 years ago and allowed Clinton to run. It was clear by then that the repub congress wasn’t going to work with him under any circumstances. His legacy is doubling everyone’s medical insurance costs, doubling the national debt and 6 years of Washington gridlock where nothing got done.

      • While “many folks medical cost went” up Mr. star. Explain to us why Health providers, including our own Connecter, and all the doctors Nation wide BAILED from this scam of a program.

      • I don’t care if any man wants to wear a dress. In fact, Many men look better in a dress than some women. But please, use the men’s room until after surgery reassignment. This is just one more reason the libs lost. They were more concerned about restroom usage than the economy.

        • @ Tita Girl…AGREE!
          Anyone remember the GLADES? Man there was some good looking babes…ah performers!
          I believe in “live & let live”…but have males using the WOMEN room that’s not right!

        • Like usual for you, your facts are all mixed up. In North Carolina, the state was mandating that people chose the bathroom for the gender of their birth – not the gender they were on the date they wanted to use the bathroom. So the state was forcing biological men to use women’s rooms.

          Bigots aren’t very smart. It helps to read.

        • Your “fact(s) are all mixed up”. NC said you use the bathroom based on your Birth Certificate. If you are “biological(y)” male you use the MENS room. “So the state was (NOT) forcing biological men to use the women’s room”. as you say. You are obviously a clueless Democrapic puppet. YOU “aren’t very smart”. “It helps to read”, which you obviously don’t.

      • @ CEI AGREE!
        The Lib Progressive mindset laced with PC is not only idiotic but can be dangerous!
        Hoping the #MAGA will overturn this ridiculous decision!

        • Yep, PC has worked well for progressives for decades. Trump was elected in part because he had the nuts to thumb his nose at the free speech stifling PC progressives. I think we are in the midst of a cultural awakening where people who have been demonized and silenced by political correctness can now speak out without fear of losing a job or a business. Expect more neurotic and violent behavior form immature progressives as they watch their utopian dreams do the turd circle around the toilet bowl. #MAGA

    • People keep saying Obama was weak, but if you look at his whole presidency, he probably was the best diplomatic president in the history of the United States. Strength is not seen by how many wars you fought and how many enemies you killed, but how many people you saved by avoiding costly wars. Trump is already salivating at the prospect of setting off a world war with China and possibly Russia, so let’s hope this planet will still be here intact four years from now.

      • Really, looks like you crushed to much cans against your head krusha. Obama IS weak, not was. Our Allies are turning their backs on us, while our adversaries are laughing at us. You and klastri related or what?

  • I suggest China deals with it,we have a New Sheriff in Town! A president who will not back down and if you hit him,he’ll come back and hit you ten times as hard! China has been a Bully in the South China Seas and a failure in reining in North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un. They Think?Just because it’s named the “China Seas” everything in the China Seas belongs to them…… Including Taiwan. Such Arrogance!

    • I see. So you think that the psychotic bully routine is going to work with China? And you are suggesting that someone else is being arrogant?

      China is a sovereign country. They are not going to do what Mr. Trump tells them to do.

      • Klastri, The United States was playing 2nd fiddle to China under Obama. You should know what it feels like. Loser. China feeds off of America. They are not biting the Country that feeds it. Stop with the nonsense and asinine quibbles. Time for you to grow up.

        • That’s not true, of course, about how China was treated during the Obama administration. But you don’t know anything, so it might be simply your usual ignorance of foreign policy.

          China is not going to be bullied by Mr. Trump. They just aren’t. You can beat your chest all you want. It will not work with China. The bully act isn’t going to work with China.

  • The PRC is use to having their way with the “Paper Tiger” of the US, now they have to deal with a President that isn’t going to kowtow to everything they tell him to do and they are scared. Good, it’s about time, China, theres a new sheriff in town and he isn’t going to take anymore of your edicts at the expense of the American people, get used to it.

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