President-elect Donald Trump's incoming White House chief of staff on Sunday played down the prospect that Trump would revisit Washington's decades-old "one China" policy, even though he suggested as much a week ago.
Since 1979, the United States has acknowledged Taiwan as part of "one China," but Trump prompted a diplomatic protest from Beijing after he accepted a congratulatory phone call on his election win from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan on December 2. Trump stated the call was regarding the close economic, political and security ties between Taiwan and the U.S.
"We are not suggesting that we're revisiting 'one China' policy right now," Trump aide Reince Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."
"He is not president right now and he's respectful to the current president," Priebus said.
Last Sunday, Trump himself said in an interview on Fox News Sunday: "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."
Political analysts said that Republican Trump's call with the president of Taiwan and the comments on the "one China" policy could antagonize Beijing.
Officially, the United States has supported the One-China policy since WWII, which acknowledged only one government as the sole legal government of China. However, Taiwan and the United States have maintained unofficial relations since 1979. The nation’s relationship is with the “people of Taiwan” through the Taiwan Relations Act.
The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 potentially requires the U.S. to intervene militarily if China attacks or invades Taiwan. The act states that "the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."
It is the policy of the United States:
1. to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other peoples of the Western Pacific area;
2. to declare that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States, and are matters of international concern;
3. to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means;
4. to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States;
5. to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character; and
6. to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.