TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China is behaving like a bullying thug against Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong, an economic adviser of United States President-elect Donald Trump once said in a statement widely quoted by Taiwanese media Saturday.
The comments reportedly date back several months, but are being given coverage now amid uncertainty about what the next U.S. president will mean to the Asia-Pacific region and to Taiwan in particular. Local commentators worry about Trump’s protectionist leanings but think he might be more inclined to supply the island with weapons.
The author of the comments, Peter Navarro, is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine, and a member of Trump’s economic advisory team. He published a book titled “Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World.”
In a media interview during the Republican National Convention last July, Navarro reportedly said he had just returned from Taiwan and seen how the people there had chosen a new and democratic president who was not a puppet of China. The communist country had subsequently cut off its ties to Taiwan in tourism and trade, he was quoted as saying.
China was bullying Taiwan, causing a backlash among the Taiwanese people, Navarro reportedly said. He added that he could not represent Trump, but that U.S. policies on Taiwan were clear and would continue to respect established elements such as the Taiwan Relations Act.
In his interview, Navarro also lashed out at China for its trade practices, accusing it of cheating on intellectual property rights and of having been breaking the rules for 15 years.
Navarro called on Chinese leader Xi Jinping to stop harassing other Asian countries, including Taiwan.
The widespread reporting of the Trump adviser’s comments came as the Taiwan Foundation of Rare Disorders was barred from a United Nations-affiliated meeting on the subject of rare diseases due to last-minute pressure from China. The incident was seen as the latest example of Chinese arrogance toward Taiwan following the failure of the island to be invited to Interpol and International Civil Aviation Organization meetings earlier in the year.