China and others in the Easily Excitable Class are up in arms over this president-elect shot across the bow:
"I fully understand the 'one China' policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a 'one China' policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade," Trump told Fox News.
The Chinese are predictably outraged:
China expressed "serious concern" on Monday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-held stance that Taiwan is part of "one China", calling it the basis for relations.
Wait. What? Our existing stance on Taiwan is the basis for our relations that include China's threats to our allies and international law, and China's utter failure to keep North Korea from going nuclear?
Huh. That's an interesting line of defense. Did they read that out loud before sending it to us?
China is also upset over proposed--if enacted--military-to-military exchanges with Taiwan:
China has spoken out against a U.S. defense bill passed Friday which includes a provision calling for yearly military exchanges with Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province.
I'm not saying that it would be a good idea to change our one-China policy that admits to only one official "China" and says that the mainland government in Peking governs that China (leaving Taiwan standing when the music stopped), but there is no reason we shouldn't review the policy in light of different circumstances.
Remember that when enacted, America and China were both concerned about defeating Soviet military power. Aligning with each other served to contain the Soviet Union to the benefit of both America and China. The legal status of Taiwan--which at the time was a minor autocracy--was something that was worth sacrificing to make sure the big threat--the USSR--did not win.
Post-Cold War Russia is no longer a threat so great that America can't contain that threat without Chinese help or at the price China could once demand.
The same goes for China, which no longer needs American help to contain Russian threats to China.
China has certainly stopped their restraint in the Pacific as their military power has grown. Why is their revision of the anti-Soviet alliance acceptable while we cannot revise our actions now that the Soviets are gone?
Indeed, China is now the main threat to peace in the Pacific, as evidenced by the slow shift of Japanese military focus from their north to their southwest (and their recent resolve to build up their power to resist Chinese threats); and the American "pivot" to Asia and the Pacific.
And today Taiwan is an advanced, modern, democratic state; while China remains a communist autocracy even as its military power has grown dramatically.
So why wouldn't America hold open the option of revisiting the one-China deal made before this new strategic environment? This isn't the Ten Commandments we're talking about here.
I'm jealous that we weren't as far-sighted as China when they simply suspended land claims against Russia in their basis for relations with post-Soviet Russia.
Perhaps the only thing that changes in the end is that China has to cough up some concessions to maintain the deal that no longer provides America with an advantage and kept static leaves China as the only beneficiary by keeping Taiwan a legal non-entity in the world system.