The hostility between President-elect Donald Trump and the Chinese government worsened on Monday, as China reported severely to attacks by Mr. Trump on its monetary and security positions. The altercation heralded a new and possibly more confrontational correlation between the world’s two largest markets, as Mr. Trump attempts to make good through on his election promises to confront China’s trade and currency policies. Chinese officials late Friday and early Saturday did not take seriously Mr. Trump’s unconventional phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, which a government official said had been organized by Bob Dole, the former Republican senator, and presidential hopeful. The call went beyond chitchats and comprised a conversation about China and stability in the Asia-Pacific, according to someone acquainted with the call.
The Chinese focused their indignation at Taiwan and not at Mr. Trump. But they indicated their annoyance with several Twitter posts Mr. Trump leveled at China over the weekend, as he condemned its currency policies and military existence in the South China Sea. In a crammed press briefing Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang advised that Beijing had made its discontent directly known to members of Mr. Trump’s team. The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s leading newspaper, said in a front-page observation in Monday’s overseas editions that “Trump and his transition team ought to recognize that creating trouble for China-U.S. relations is just creating trouble for the U.S. itself.
It criticized Mr. Trump’s tweets for portraying the phone call “as not a big deal” and warned that if such “petty tricks” are allowed to go unanswered, Beijing could expect to see more of these provocations once he’s in office. Mr. Dole, in an interview, said the law firm he is affiliated with does work with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., and that the firm played a role in arranging the phone call. “It’s fair to say that we may have had some influence,” Mr. Dole said. U.S.-China experts said both Mr. Trump and Beijing appear to be trying to establish boundaries for a new relationship between the countries, which is expected to be more adversarial than that favored by President Barack Obama since 2009.
At the White House, officials fielded multiple calls from Chinese officials over the weekend in which China complained about Mr. Trump’s actions and said it needs stability and predictability in its relationship with the U.S., a senior Obama administration official said. The Chinese also were seeking guidance on Mr. Trump’s policy intentions, and White House officials said they didn’t know what they are, the administration official said.“ What you have seen in the past eight years is possibly too much predictability” from the U.S. in its approach to China, said Christopher Johnson, a former senior China analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. “A little unpredictability is a good thing, but too much is scary. There’s a fine line there between good unpredictability and scary, and that’s the balance that has to be found.”