Friday 28 April 2017

Trump's policy threatens the peace in Taiwan, China warns

President-elect Donald Trump at a Thank You Tour 2016 rally along with Paul Ryan (left), speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (centre). Trump has been visiting states across the country since he won the election, before officially taking office on January 20. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
President-elect Donald Trump at a Thank You Tour 2016 rally along with Paul Ryan (left), speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (centre). Trump has been visiting states across the country since he won the election, before officially taking office on January 20. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ben Blanchard

Beijing has issued a blunt warning to Donald Trump that any attempt to challenge the "One China" policy could affect peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Interference may also damage developing US-China relations, a spokesman said.

Under the "One China" policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.

But, President-elect Donald has expressed doubts about continuing to abide by the policy. He had already angered China by taking a phone call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, and then tweeting about it.

This week China said it was "seriously concerned" by Mr Trump's comments, and urged sensitivity around the issue.

But An Fengshan, a spokesman for China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, went further yesterday, warning of more serious consequences.

"Upholding the 'One China' principle is the political basis of developing China-US relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," he said.

"If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted," he added.

Mr An's comments came as Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, vowed the US will keep challenging Beijing's "assertive, aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea".

Speaking to Australian think tank the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Admiral Harris said: "We will not allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally, no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea. We will co-operate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must."

Beijing has been developing artificial islands capable of hosting military planes in the region.

It also insists on sovereignty over virtually all the resource-endowed South China Sea, despite rival claims from its South East Asian neighbours.

Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognise the claims, and has sent warships into the area to assert the right to freedom of navigation. China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a US think tank reported yesterday.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said its findings come despite ­statements by the Chinese ­leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarise the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.

AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military-length airstrips on these islands.

"It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defence fortifications already constructed at China's smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs," it said, citing images taken in November and made available to reporters.

"This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs."

In Washington yesterday Mr Trump named former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the US Department of Energy, handing the job to a climate-change sceptic with close ties to the oil industry who once proposed abolishing the department.

The choice adds to a list of drilling proponents who have been tapped for top jobs in Trump's administration, pleasing an industry eager for expansion but worrying environmental groups concerned by the US role in global climate change. Trump, who takes office on January 20, has made energy policy a central issue in his agenda. He has promised to revive oil and gas drilling and coal mining by cutting back on federal regulations.

He also has said he would pull the United States out of a global deal to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, which an overwhelming number of scientists say contribute to changes to the climate that are leading to sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.

Irish Independent

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