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Trump has put US-China relations in the balance

First published:, 13/12/2016

His talk of currency manipulation could lead to a trade war

In an interview with Fox News over the weekend, the President-Elect said he didn’t know why the United States should be bound by the One China policy. This policy, under which the US has commercial and military relations with Taiwan but doesn’t recognise its sovereign status, has been the bedrock of US foreign policy towards China for 40 years and is among the most sensitive of red lines for Beijing. Now, Donald Trump is hinting he could revisit it—unless China was willing to do a deal with the US over trade and other issues that span tensions over the South China Sea and relations with North Korea. Why is he treading on eggshells?

The now typical answers to this—as to many other questions—are that he doesn’t care for political correctness, doesn’t mind being called volatile and unpredictable, and wants to establish a new basis for US-China relations, ostensibly to give American workers a better deal. But a more fractious relationship with China has also been in the Trump narrative from the beginning of his election campaign. The rhetoric during the year and since his November victory has included the threat to label China a currency manipulator, to levy across-the-board tariffs on Chinese goods, and to build up American military presence in the South and East China Seas. More recently, he had already broken protocol by receiving a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen….Read more: