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US, China and Taiwan get off on the wrong foot in 2019

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As if it wasn’t sad enough that Christmas was banned in parts of China, the most powerful man in the free world had to ruin a seven-year-old’s Christmas. And “peace on earth, goodwill to men” is a message lost on Beijing, Taipei and Washington, to judge by other developments.

On New Year’s Eve, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which includes a section reaffirming the US’ commitment to sell arms to Taiwan – which is exactly the button to push to get China to go ballistic.

Over in Taipei, although President Tsai Ing-wen was still smarting from the disastrous election in November, she felt compelled to add fuel to the fire started by Trump. In a bit of grandstanding on New Year’s Day, she gave Beijing a lesson about handling cross-strait relations and respecting an electorate’s choices. The Democratic Progressive Party’s defeat should not be taken to mean the Taiwanese were “choosing to give up our sovereignty”, she said.

In a matter of hours, two red lines were crossed. Arms sales to Taiwan and........

© South China Morning Post