Hong Kong (CNN) – President-elect Donald Trump has taken a fresh swipe at China just two days after a controversial phone call with Taiwan’s president that upended decades of diplomatic protocol.
Trump, in two tweets late Sunday, accused China of keeping its currency artificially low and of military posturing in the South China Sea – home to a tense territorial dispute.
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!,” Trump said on Twitter.
Trump appears to be pushing back against critics, who say his shoot-from-the-hip diplomatic style risks a confrontation with China.
Beijing regards Taiwan – officially the Republic of China – as a breakaway province and has said it will use military force against the island if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after Communist victory in the civil war.
10-minute call that could change history
The 10-minute conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which Trump described as a congratulatory call, was the first time a US president has spoken to Taiwan’s leader since Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979.
It’s unclear to what extent Trump’s latest comments will rattle Beijing, which had a fairly muted stance to Friday’s phone call.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday it was a petty gambit and China lodged an official complaint.
A front-page opinion piece published today on the overseas edition of the People’s Daily – the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece – said the call set a bad precedent.
“Trump’s unconventional move on Taiwan did ring a warning bell for the direction of Sino-US relations. China will not take it lightly,” the paper said.
Victor Gao, a Chinese international relations expert and former translator to late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, said that Trump could say what he liked as President-elect but his comments would have huge global consequences once in office.
“We hope President-elect Donald Trump, who will very soon go into (the) White House, will handle himself with respect, accountability and responsibility and become a force of peace and stability rather than making whimsical and capricious remarks aimed at surprising the world,” he said.
Trump’s remarks on China’s currency aren’t dramatically different from his campaign trail rhetoric, however, it’s only the second time that Trump has weighed in on the South China Sea dispute.
Tensions have ratcheted up in the waters, which are a major shipping route, as China has conducted massive dredging operations to reclaim land around territory it controls, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.
Beijing has also warned US warships and military aircraft to stay away from these islands.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and central bank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Top: US President-elect Donald Trump hit out at China again after the controversial Taiwan phone call. Photo: CNN
SOURCE: CNN’s Katie Hunt,