The problem with the US (and the West) has been the weasel like deference they’ve been paying to China for the last, almost 40 years. Even with the US having the worlds largest economy and technically advanced military, no President since 1979 (Jimmy Carter for Christ sake) has been game to accept or make a call to Taiwan for fear of upsetting China.
Trumps not so veiled message is pretty simple, pretty straight forward “There’s a new sheriff in town and I’ll talk to whom I damn well please”
He’s off to a good start and not even inaugurated yet.
“..US president-elect Donald Trump was absolutely right to take a phone call from Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen.
By this one 10-minute call he has done something that was utterly beyond Barack Obama in eight feckless years in the White House — he has put the Chinese leadership off balance.
At first Beijing was grimly silent, then it blamed Taiwan, then it issued a formal protest to Washington, then it played down the phone call.
The pro-Beijing hysterics who see the Trump conversation as the end of civilisation should reflect on what they are really saying.
It is, apparently, perfectly OK for Beijing to militarise a vast swath of the South China Sea, to use military force to occupy atolls over which it has no serious historical claim, to construct artificial islands to host military landing strips, to increase its military spending by more than 10 per cent annually for two decades and, of course, to ruthlessly suppress all dissent at home.
But for Trump to take a congratulatory phone call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan, who came to office in a clean, fair and peaceful ballot, and who has no aggressive intentions towards anybody — that apparently is the crime of the ages.
Gimme a break.
There was a lot to dislike in Trump’s campaign, but his victory offers a lot of upside as well as risks. For the past four years especially, Beijing has played Obama off a break.
The US military has been strong in Asia, but Obama never missed a chance to miss a chance, and was outmanoeuvred by the Chinese for tactics at every point.
For decades now, Beijing has dangled the threat of not co-operating in the efforts to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions to keep Washington in line.
But North Korea couldn’t last three months without Beijing’s support and constraining Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions is surely in Beijing’s interests.
Either way, it’s not going to do anything about Pyongyang as a favour to Washington.
The same is true on climate change.
Beijing has notionally promised to reach peak carbon emissions in a decade and a half or so, and in the meantime is allowed to double its emissions, and if it fails to meet even those targets, there is no sanction.
And to secure this meaningless marshmallow of nothingness, Obama virtually abandoned any serious action in the South China Sea.
Xi Jinping must have laughed all the way to the bank.
Trump has a certain freedom Obama never had.
He had an almost equally unconventional phone call to The Philippines’s tough-guy President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Duterte, Trump invited him to visit the White House next year and offered no criticism of Duterte’s rugged anti-drugs crackdown.
Sources in Washington suggest former general David Petraeus is firming as Trump’s favoured choice as secretary of state, ahead of Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Bob Corker.
Petraeus offers Trump both establishment credibility and maverick swagger and nationalist self-assertion at the same time.
It’s also becoming clear that Trump really likes appointing soldiers.
Whatever anyone’s reservations about Trump, his presidency, even before it begins, looks deeply unconventional, with a huge potential upside and an equally huge potential downside.
Hold on to your hats! The right call on Taiwan trumps Barack Obama