President-elect Donald Trump's early antagonism of China is "not exactly very clever", France's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
His comments follow Trump's insinuation on Sunday (11 December) that the US may not continue to honour its decades-old One-China policy — the foundation of the relationship between the two global superpowers.
In an interview on Fox News Trump said he understands the One-China policy, a 1972 agreement in which the US has shunned recognition of Taiwan as an independent nation. Yet, he said, "I don't know why we have to be bound by a One-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."
As he spoke with Fox anchor Chris Wallace, Trump's comments opened fresh wounds in the US-China relationship following a call he took from Taiwan's leader in early December. The small Taiwanese island is off the coast of China and the Asian superpower sees it as its own. A US leader has not talked to a Taiwanese leader for four decades.
"We can have our differences with China, but you don't talk to a partner like that," French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, told France 2 television on Wednesday (14 December). "When China feels questioned on its unity, that's not exactly very clever."
Also questioning the Asian superpower's good will toward the US, Trump said "I don't want China dictating to me," and asked "why should some other nation be able to say, I can't take a call?"
The One-China policy has been the foundation of China-US relations for the past 40 years. Trump's stance is diametric to how China-US relations fared under President Barack Obama. Experts say Obama "firmly guided" the relationship, which he has called "the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century."
Trump's angry defence of his call with Taiwan has inflamed tensions. Following his interview on Fox, China's foreign minister Wang Yi issued a statement saying that anyone who questions the One-China policy "will only be smashing their own feet." Community Party-owned newspapers in the China have roundly mocked Trump and said his approach to diplomacy and his rhetoric will not be tolerated.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday any interference with the "One China" policy will seriously impact peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
"We need to avoid things spiralling out of control," France's Ayrault insisted. "So I hope that [Trump's] new team will have learnt enough so that we manage an uncertain world with more sang-froid and responsibility."