China says matters of sovereignty and territorial integrity are non-negotiable, in yet another reaction to comments by US President-elect Donald Trump, who has suggested his administration-in-waiting may want to trade the recognition of Chinese sovereignty on Taiwan for economic and political concessions from Beijing.
“Basic norms of international relations should be observed, not ignored, certainly not be seen as something you can trade off,” said Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, while speaking to the executives of top American companies on Wednesday.
“And indeed, national sovereignty and territorial integrity are not bargaining chips. Absolutely not. I hope everybody would understand that,” Cui added, in a thinly-veiled message to Trump.
The Chinese ambassador stressed, however, that Beijing and Washington needed to work to strengthen their relationship, saying, “The political foundation of China-US relations should not be undermined. It should be preserved.”
In controversial remarks made to Fox News on Sunday, Trump had said he did not feel “bound by a ‘One China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
The “One China” policy refers to the recognition by other countries of Chinese sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan. The US adopted the policy in 1979 and has ever since been maintaining only unofficial ties with Taiwan.
However, Trump earlier took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, making a major break from US diplomatic protocol and angering China.
While tacitly adversarial, Sino-US relations have generally been stable. Trump’s openly hostile rhetoric, however, risks alienating Beijing. The Trump drama involving Taiwan has set off a string of stern reactions from China, Ambassador Cui’s being only the latest.
On Wednesday, a Chinese official warned that a change in the United States’ adherence to the “One China” policy would harm bilateral ties between Beijing and Washington.
“If this basis is interfered with or damaged, then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted,” said spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office An Fengshan.
During his election campaign, Trump also consistently lambasted China, drumming up headlines with his pledges to slap 45-percent tariffs on imported Chinese goods and to label the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office.