Image: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year’s Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
By Brenda Goh and J.R. Wu
SHANGHAI/TAIPEI (Reuters) – State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the one-China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met senior U.S. Republican lawmakers during her stopover in Houston on Sunday en route to Central America, where she will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Tsai will stopover on Jan. 13 in San Francisco on her way back to Taiwan.
Beijing had asked Washington not to allow Tsai to enter the United States and that she not have any formal government meetings under the one China policy.
A photograph tweeted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott shows him meeting Tsai, with a small table between them adorned with the U.S., Texas and Taiwanese flags. Tsai’s office said on Monday she also spoke by telephone with U.S. senator John McCain, head of the powerful Senate Committee on Armed Services. Tsai also met Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
“Sticking to (the one China) principle is not a capricious request by China upon U.S. presidents, but an obligation of U.S. presidents to maintain China-U.S. relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific,” said the Global Times editorial on Sunday. The influential tabloid is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
Trump triggered protests from Beijing last month by accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai and questioning Washington’s commitment to China’s position that Taiwan is part of one China.
“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,” said the Global Times.
Cruz said some members of Congress had received a letter from the Chinese consulate asking them not to meet with Tsai during her stopovers.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said in a statement. “This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend.”
Cruz said he and Tsai discussed upgrading bilateral relations and furthering economic cooperation between their countries, including increased access to Taiwanese markets that will benefit Texas ranchers, farmers and small businesses.
In a dinner speech Saturday to hundreds of overseas Taiwanese, Tsai said that the United States holds a “special place in the hearts of the people of Taiwan” and that the self-ruled island via bilateral exchanges has provided more than 320,000 jobs directly and indirectly to the American people, her office said on Monday.
Tsai said Taiwan looks to create more U.S. jobs through deeper investment, trade and procurement.
Tsai’s office said that James Moriarty, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, which handles U.S.-Taiwan affairs in the absence of formal ties, told the Taiwanese president in Houston that the United States was continuing efforts to persuade China to resume dialogue with Taiwan.
China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who it thinks wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing regards as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations.
The Global Times, whose stance does not equate with government policy, also targeted Tsai in the editorial, saying that the mainland would likely impose further diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan, warning that “Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes”.
“It should also impose military pressure on Taiwan and push it to the edge of being reunified by force, so as to effectively affect the approval rating of the Tsai administration.”
(Reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and J.R. Wu in Taipei; Editing by Michael Perry)