The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified and extended.
Yesterday, the US President Elect Donald Trump spoke to the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is ideologically opposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘One China’ vision. It was a first for any US President or President Elect to speak to the Taiwanese President since 1979 when the US had closed its embassy in Taipei and severed its diplomatic ties recognizing the Mainland China as the sole Chinese voice.
Since the call was made public by the Taiwanese media and the Trump transition team, there was a growing global debate over it as China is vehemently opposed to any move that challenges its territorial sovereignty and always registers strong protests, be it the US arms sales to Taiwan or call for democratic voices in Hong Kong or the Dalai Lama’s global outreach efforts for Tibet’s sovereignty.
Initial reports did not make it clear that who called whom – whether it was Donald Trump who has promised to fundamentally shake up the political administration of the US – or the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen – until Donald Trump made it clear in a tweet that says, “the President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!”
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!
6:14 AM – 3 Dec 2016
Trump further clarified his act by saying that he didn’t see any wrong in accepting a congratulatory call from a country whom the US sells billions of dollars of military equipment.
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.
7:11 AM – 3 Dec 2016
It means Donald Trump may not have done it purposefully as was being widely speculated before his tweets and Trump speaking to the Taiwanese President may be a courtesy call only.
As expected, China’s initial reaction was a firm opposition, because international relations between the worlds’s biggest economic and military powers are always sensitive and here every act matters. People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, tweeted quoting Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that “China firmly opposes any official interaction or military contact between #US and #Taiwan.”
China firmly opposes any official interaction or military contact between #US and #Taiwan: China MOFA, Fri
6:23 PM – 2 Dec 2016
But the latest reaction from Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister, indicates that China would like to treat the waters cautiously and would like to see the phone call by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is ideologically opposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘One China’ vision, to Trump as a small trick giving Trump the benefit of doubt that he accepted the call out of courtesy.
Taiwan’s small trick will not change one-China principle, the cornerstone of healthy #China-#US relations: Wang Yi responds to #Trump’s call
9:30 PM – 2 Dec 2016
On November 13, Chinese President Xi Jinping had called Donald Trump to congratulate on his victory pushing his point that ‘cooperation was the only correct’ way ahead for the countries. Responding to the call, a statement from the Trump transition team said that the leaders developed a ‘clear sense of mutual respect’ during the telephone conversation, “During the call, the leaders established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another, and President-elect Trump stated that he believes the two leaders will have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward”.
Probably the muted Chinese response to an otherwise disturbing act from the Chinese point of view follows that ‘clear sense of mutual respect only’.