Select Page


Greg Sheridan’s article about Donald Trump accepting a phone call from the President of Taiwan was very interesting (“The right call on Taiwan trumps Obama”, 5/12). Trump’s decision to accept the call may be his way of sending a message to the Chinese and thereby establish a new position from which to negotiate.

One of the first Westerners to take up residency in Shanghai after the Treaty of Nanking was Walter Medhurst. On his first visit to Shanghai in 1835, he was told he would have to kneel before the local Chinese leader as a condition of the meeting.

To this he refused and he wrote in his book in 1838: “In negotiating with the Chinese, nothing would tend so effectually to defeat the end in view, as a ready compliance with their demands … every subsequent negotiation with the same individual, or with others of his nation, would hinge upon the first reception.”

Medhurst’s experience of negotiating with the Chinese diaspora in Jakarta went back 20 years and had taught him to be wary of acceding too readily to their demands.

There are claims that Trump’s action in accepting the call will damage the relationship between China and the US. The first response from the Chinese Foreign Minister indicates this would not be the case, but you can be sure that behind the scenes, the Chinese are working out a new way of negotiating with the Americans.

John Holliday, Tallai, Qld

China’s emperors do confected outrage really well, hoping that we barbarians will tremblingly obey, but Donald Trump’s contact with Taiwan really does scare the hell out of them.

In Chinese cultural terms, “you are either the emperor or a bandit”, and this gang of bandits have never quite become emperors because they have never quite defeated their enemy, the Kuomintang, and never quite reunited the empire.

That is why Taiwan is the sum of all their fears, and in addition, it is a liberal democracy, governed by the rule of law. One day, when the mandate of heaven looks insecure in Beijing, the Taiwan tail might begin to wag the mainland dog.

In the meantime, Trump has found a way to play on the paranoia that is rampant in the Chinese leadership. Good on him.

Jim Wilson, Beaumont, SA