Only hours after reports of U.S. Republican officials meeting with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen in Houston came out, the state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times wasted no time in coming out with an editorial to threaten President-elect Donald Trump anew that China would "take revenge" should he lead the U.S. in turning its back on the " One-China" policy.
The strongly-worded editorial said that sticking to the One-China policy is not just a "capricious request" by China on American presidents, but an "obligation" of U.S. presidents to maintain China-U.S. relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific.
The piece then went on to deliver its grave threat against Trump and the U.S. saying that if Trump reneges on the One-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people "will demand the government to take revenge". It claimed further that " there is no room for bargaining."
While it can be argued that the stance of the paper does not automatically equate to government policy, the fact that it is published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily effectively makes it a government mouthpiece.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang today also urged "relevant U.S. officials to handle the Taiwan issue " appropriately" in order to prevent damaging China-U.S. ties, specifically opposing any form of contact or activities between U.S. and Taiwan leaders.
The editorial also hit Tsai as it warned that the mainland would likely impose further diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan, and that the Taiwanese leader needs to face the consequences for every "provocative step she takes".
China has never wavered in its declaration that Taiwan, although self-governing, is a renegade province of China, and as such is ineligible for state-to-state relations. Tsai has rejected China's claim, incurring the wrath of Chinese officials in the process. China has become very suspicious of Tsai since then, convinced as it is that she will strongly push for the formal independence of the island from China.
The offices of Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott both released statements on the officials' meeting with Tsai, who was in the U.S. for a brief stopover in Houston on Sunday en route to her diplomatic trips to Central America. Gov. Abbott also tweeted a photograph that shows him meeting with Tsai where a small table adorned with the U.S., Texas and Taiwanese flags could also be seen. Tsai's office also announced that the Taiwanese president talked on the phone with Sen. John McCain, head of the powerful Senate Committee on Armed Services.
China had previously demanded the U.S. not to permit Tsai to enter the country or hold formal government meetings with her, citing again the One-China policy. In an apparent rebuke of
China's heavy-handed demands, Sen. Cruz earlier said that "China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors ourselves", and that their meeting with Tsai is not about China, but "about the relationship of the U.S. with Taiwan, an ally it is legally-bound to defend".
Trump has also refused to take lightly China's recent threats against him for taking a congratulatory call from Tsai after his election victory, and for expressing enthusiasm in pushing for closer U.S.-Taiwan ties. The incoming 45th American President has made threats of his own against China in strongly-worded Twitter messages, sending a signal that he cannot be pushed around or dictated on by the Asian superpower.