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Commentary: Five Ts to observe China in 2017


NewsHubSINGAPORE: It is often said among China-watching circles that the most politically-sensitive issues of Beijing can be summed up in four Ts: Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen and East Turkestan, the separatist name preferred for Xinjiang.
As the new year begins, a new set of five Ts can also be useful markers to look ahead to 2017 in China.
Even before Mr Trump assumes the presidency on Jan 20, he had drawn the ire of China by taking a call from Taiwan Presiden Tsai Ing-wen and openly mocked the “One China” principle.
And let’s not forget the American leader had repeatedly blamed climate change on China during the hustings and threatened to slap tariffs of up to 45 per cent on Chinese imports.
It is safe to say the 83 per cent Chinese surveyed who felt he was morally fit to be president might be having second thoughts now.
The unpredictability of Mr Trump’s administration will flummox and frustrate Beijing’s leaders, diplomats and military for much of 2017. 
She showed it in the last seven months, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, a tacit agreement that the mainland has insisted to indicate fealty to “One China”.
And by successfully placing the call to Mr Trump, she displayed an audacity and creativity which must worry the mainland.
In return, the retaliation from Beijing has been swift. China refrained from courting Taiwan’s diplomatic partners during the eight-year term of Mr Ma.
But the mainland formally established ties with Gambia in March and San Tome and Principe in December. Taiwan now has only 21 diplomatic partners.
The international space of Taiwan will continue to shrink in 2017, as China takes a hardline stance against Ms Tsai.

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