On Sunday, directly on the heels of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial meeting with U.S. lawmakers in Houston, a state-run Chinese tabloid ran an editorial warning that China would “take revenge” if the U.S. abandoned its one-China policy.
“Trump is yet to be inaugurated, and there is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan,” writes the Global Times. “But in case he tears up the one-China policy after taking office, the mainland is prepared.”
The editorial goes on to state that “Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary” and that continuing collaboration between U.S. and Taiwanese officials will “ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.”
Later in the piece, however, the Times discards pretense and assumes a more threatening tone:
If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.
The opinion of the Global Times, as Reuters points out, does not necessarily equate to the official stance of the Chinese government. It is, however, a state-controlled outlet, and the editorial undeniably reflects the mounting tension between China and the U.S. over the issue of Taiwan.
China views the nation of Taiwan — whose foundation was laid in 1949, when the official Chinese government was forced to flee to the island to escape the Communists — as an official Chinese province. This is the root of the one-China policy, which the U.S. has long adhered to.
This all began to change when incoming President Trump broke protocol, as highlighted by a Washington Post piece on Monday.
“Tensions regarding U.S.-Chinese-Taiwanese relations have been high since early December,” the Post writes, “when President-elect Donald Trump accepted a phone call from Tsai, breaking with nearly four decades of protocol in speaking directly with the Taiwanese leader.”
The situation intensified during the weeks that followed, most notably due to the Taiwanese president’s announcement that she would stop over in Houston to meet with Texas lawmakers on her way to Central America. This prompted the Chinese General Consul of Houston to send a letter to one of those lawmakers, Senator Ted Cruz, asking him not to meet with Tsai.
The senator ignored that request, however, and he and Governor Greg Abbott met with Tsai on Sunday. Within hours, the Global Times editorial warning the U.S. against taking actions counter to the “obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations” had been published.
In a statement, however, Senator Cruz made it clear the United States will not be told with whom it can and cannot meet.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” the statement reads. “This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom we meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.”
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