The article has been updated. December 12, 2016. 3:43 PM EST.
WASHINGTON – Chinese state-run newspaper The Global Times called President-elect Donald Trump “as ignorant as a child in terms of foreign policy” in an editorial Monday, after he questioned over the weekend whether the United States should maintain its longstanding policy that Taiwan is part of “one China.”
“I fully understand the one China policy, but 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,” Trump told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday.
Trump made the comment in response to a question about his Dec. 2 phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which marked the first time a U.S. president or president-elect has been known to speak to a Taiwanese leader in nearly four decades. The call prompted backlash in mainland China.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang expressed “serious concern” about Trump’s comments Monday.
“The one China principle is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and if this foundation is compromised, the sound and steady development of the bilateral relationship will be out of the question,” he said, according to a transcript of the Monday press briefing.
Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan a “renegade province.” Chinese nationalists fled to the island and established a government after losing the civil war in 1949. President Jimmy Carter broke off relations with the government of Taiwan in 1979 and established relations with the government of mainland China.
“I mean, look, we’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing,” Trump said on Fox News.
“And, frankly, they’re not helping us at all with North Korea. You have North Korea, you have nuclear weapons, and China could solve that problem. And they’re not helping us at all. So, I don’t want China dictating to me.”
The White House said Monday that it does not view “Taiwan and our relationship with Taiwan as a bargaining chip,” including that Taiwan is a “close partner.”
“Bargaining that away is not something that this administration believes is our best interest,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a regular news briefing.
“Disrupting this policy could have a disruptive effect on our ability to work with China in those areas where our interests do align,” Earnest said. “That reflects the high priority that China puts on the policy and on Taiwan.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Shuang reiterated China’s stance Monday that it maintains “indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters,” despite a July international court ruling that deemed the country to have violated the territorial rights of the Philippines in the region.
Trump said Sunday that the Taiwanese president called him for a short congratulatory call, and that he found out about it only a few hours in advance. The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported, however, that the call had been painstakingly planned by Trump’s team months in advance.
Trump’s diplomatic shake-up has been met with praise and condemnation.