SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese state media on Monday continued to play down the protocol-bending phone call last week between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan’s president, with editorials in two newspapers saying the move showed Trump’s inexperience.
China’s national English-language newspaper, the China Daily, said the 10-minute call “exposed nothing but the inexperience Trump and his transition team have in dealing with foreign affairs”.
“The action was due to a lack of a proper understanding of the sensitive issues in Sino-U.S. relations and cross-Strait ties,” it said.
The Friday call was the first by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China”.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had lodged “stern representations” with what it called the “relevant U.S. side,” urging the careful handling of the Taiwan issue to avoid any unnecessary disturbances in ties.
China considers Taiwan a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday pointedly blamed Taiwan for the exchange, rather than Trump, calling it “a petty action”.
The China Daily said that for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, the call “achieves nothing substantial, only pride in making what is an illusionary ‘groundbreaking move’, and temporarily diverting public attention on the island away from her bad performance”.
“It would be a mistake for Tsai and her party to over-interpret the significance of the call,” it said. Her attempts to “stir up tension... will ultimately backfire”.
The Global Times, a hawkish tabloid under the ruling Communist Party’s top newspaper the People’s Daily, called Trump “bluffing and unpredictable”, but said he did not have plans to overturn America’s international relationships.
“It seems that Trump is still taking advantage of his perceived fickleness and unpredictability to make some choppy waves in the Taiwan Straits to see if he can gain some bargaining chips before he is sworn in,” it said.
The Global Times added targeting him would be inappropriate since he is not yet president.
“He has zero diplomatic experience and is unaware of the repercussions of shaking up Sino-U.S. relations,” it said.
Instead, China could send a message to Trump by punishing Taiwan, wooing away one or two of the island’s diplomatic allies or beefing up military deployments against Taiwan, it 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.”
On Monday, Taiwan’s Liberty Times, considered close to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, reported Tsai is planning to transit in New York early next month on her way to visit three diplomatic allies - Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The trip would take place before Trump’s inauguration January 20 and Tsai’s delegation would seek to meet with Trump’s team, including Reince Priebus, Trump’s White House chief of staff, the report said.
Taiwan’s Presidential Office said media reports about a January trip were “excessive speculation”. It said it would announce any presidential trips at the appropriate time.
Reporting by John Ruwitch; Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in TAIPEI; Editing by Lincoln Feast