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Chinese unhappy with Trump's potential shift away from long-held 'one China' policy

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday that he understands the United States' "one China" policy but still signaled a willingness to shift away from the historic custom, a possibility that leaves the Chinese government less than happy.

"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 said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

The president-elect's comments come after he took a Dec. 2 call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — the first such U.S. interaction with Taiwan since diplomatic ties between the two countries were cut in 1979.

"We’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation; with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them; with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing; and, frankly, with not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said Sunday of the call. "I don't want China dictating to me."

The decision to take the call, which Trump said he learned about "an hour or two" before it took place, prompted questions about his understanding of and respect for the "one China" policy, which undergirds Washington-Beijing relations and delegitimizes Chinese rival Taiwan.

While the communication with Ing-wen was praised by some, the Chinese government was certainly not happy with it.

A Monday editorial from the Global Times, China's state-run newspaper, referred to Trump as a "child" for his willingness to reconsider the United States' relationship with Taiwan and, subsequently, China.

"China needs to launch a resolute struggle with him," the editorial read. "Only after he’s hit some obstacles and truly understands that China and the rest of the world are not to be bullied will he gain some perception."

"Many people might be surprised at how the new U.S. leader is truly a ‘businessman’ through and through," it continued. "But in the field of diplomacy, he is as ignorant as a child."

However, despite the call earlier this month, the Taiwanese leader told reporters last week that she does "not foresee major policy shifts in the near future" in terms of how the U.S. works with the island.

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