Donald Trump hasn’t provoked China in days, but he got another warning via Chinese state media on Sunday, thanks to his old foe Ted Cruz.
The Texas senator and Greg Abbott, the state’s governor, met with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen in Houston on Sunday, while she was passing through on her way to Central America. Cruz said they discussed “arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations,” and that he hopes to increase trade between Texas and Taiwan. Abbott said Tsai gave him a vase and he presented her with “a clock bearing the Texas State Seal.”
As Reuters notes, it’s not that unusual for U.S. lawmakers to meet with Taiwanese leaders, but it’s a particularly delicate time to do so. Trump signaled his disrespect for the “One China Policy,” by which the U.S. has abided since 1979, when he accepted a congratulatory phone call from Tsai last month. Then he told Fox News that he doesn’t think the U.S. should stick with the policy unless China makes concessions on trade, and selected fierce China critics for top trade roles in his administration.
Cruz said that just before meeting with Tsai, the Houston congressional delegation received a “curious letter” from China asking them to cancel their meeting with Tsai and uphold the One China Policy.
“The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said. “This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.”
Though Trump said nothing about the meeting, a short time later the state-run tabloid Global Times issued another warning directed at him.
“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,” the editorial said. “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,”
The editorial also said, “Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes,” suggesting that China would put more diplomatic, economic, and military pressure on Taiwan.
Trump has said he does not plan to meet anymore world leaders before taking office on January 20, but he’s open to meeting with Tsai someday.