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The Foreign Ministry urged US president-elect Donald Trump on Monday to act prudently on the Taiwan question to avoid "serious damage to the Sino-US relationship", after Trump once again publicly provoked China.
Beijing could react with countermeasures in trade and regional issues, if Trump keeps challenging the time-tested one-China policy, which is the diplomatic cornerstone of relations between the world's two biggest economies, Chinese experts said.
In a Fox News broadcast on Sunday, Trump said the United States does not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China", challenging the consensus that the two countries have upheld for nearly four decades.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that the one-China policy is the political foundation of the Sino-US relationship, and if this foundation is broken, Sino-US cooperation in key areas would have no basis.
"We urge the new US administration and its leader to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan question," Geng said at a regularly scheduled news conference. Geng said the Taiwan question must be handled in a prudent and proper manner to avoid serious damage to Sino-US ties.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, met with Trump's transitional team, including Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, whom Trump has designated as his national security adviser, in New York when Yang made his recent Latin American trip, Geng said. They exchanged opinions on "important issues that concerned both sides", he said.
Trump's comments came after he prompted a sharp objection from China over his decision to accept a telephone call on Dec 2 from Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen. It was the first time a US president or president-elect has publicly spoken to a Taiwan leader in nearly four decades.
According to a report by Singapore-based Zaobao.com, Joseph Wu, a senior security official for Taiwan, and David Lee, a senior diplomat for Taiwan, will travel to the US amid enhanced communications between the United States and the island.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said that China could send a "strong response" and "at least downgrade its diplomatic level with the US" if the Trump-led administration continued to challenge the one-China policy.
If the US government under Trump provoked China on territorial sovereignty, the US should not expect to get the cooperation from China on major international issues, he said.
China could also take a more aggressive stance regarding US navigation patrols in the South China Sea, where it has so far restricted itself to verbal warnings and restrained actions, he added.
China also has a large amount of US debt, and China is also the largest export market for US agricultural products. If Trump makes irrational moves, China could take countermeasures in economic and trade areas, said Li Ruogu, former chairman of the Export-Import Bank of China.
Li said the Chinese government has to be prepared since China should not attach its hopes to what Trump might or might not do.
Dong Chunling, a researcher on US studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that through provocation on the Taiwan question, Trump wants to gain more leverage for his foreign policy after assuming the presidency next month.
"If the basis of the China-US relationship is undermined, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will be affected, which will impact the US economy and employment," he said.(news from China Daily)