Donald Trump is a “diplomatic rookie” who must learn not to cross Beijing on issues like trade and Taiwan, Chinese state media said Tuesday, warning America could pay dearly for his inexperience.
A protocol-shattering call with Taiwan’s president followed by a Twitter tirade against Beijing’s policies by the president-elect could risk upending the delicate balance between the world’s two largest economies, Chinese editorials in major media outlets said.
“Provoking friction and messing up China-US relations won’t help ‘make America great again’”, said a front-page opinion piece in the overseas edition of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.
The patriotic Global Times newspaper’s Chinese edition also ran a page-one story damning Trump’s “provocation and falsehood”.
Trump sent out two tweets Sunday blasting China for devaluing its currency, taxing US imports, and building military installations in the South China Sea.
The comments followed criticism of Trump in US and Chinese media for taking a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a move that upended nearly 40 years of diplomatic protocol and raised questions about whether the president-elect intends to pursue a hard line against Beijing.
The barrage of attacks by state media calling Trump diplomatically inexperienced and reckless followed a muted official response Monday, with the foreign ministry declining to comment on the outburst’s motivation.
The Global Times’ English-language edition filled its opinions pages with editorials slamming the president-elect.
Noting that Sino-US relations had reached a delicate equilibrium thanks to years of careful management, an editorial in the paper warned that Trump “can make a lot of noise but that does not exempt him from the rules of the major power game,” adding that he “doesn’t have sufficient resources” to be provocative with China.
“Trump’s China-bashing tweet is just a cover for his real intent, which is to treat China as a fat lamb and cut a piece of meat off it,” it said, adding: “We must confront Trump’s provocation head on.”
A companion commentary warned that Trump “will in time learn not to cross China”, threatening “a fierce competition” with Beijing if the US increases arm sales to Taiwan.
It was illustrated by an editorial cartoon showing an eagle throwing pebbles at a large, scowling panda.
Meanwhile the English-language China Daily newspaper warned that “diplomatic rookie” Trump needs to moderate his behaviour or he will create “costly troubles for his country”.
“As president-elect, Trump can expect some forgiveness even when he is shooting from the hip. But things will be different when he becomes president.”