TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (Press Shia) – A University of Chicago professor believes Europe is just as dispensable as Taiwan and the president-elect has surrendered it in advance.

Donald J. Trump has recently made a phone call to Tsai-Ing-wen, president of Taiwan. This was the first call of the US president to a high-ranking official of Taiwan in nearly 40 years, an issue arousing China’s authorities’ harsh reaction calling the US for not only to respect ‘One China’ policy, but also refuse to continue such an approach in the future.

Obama reiterated the US commitment to One China policy earlier in the week as a general agreement with China; however, the phone call had a far-reaching impact on the US-China relations in that China’s foreign ministry said in a scheduled briefing that it was extremely concerned with Trump’s comments, with spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters that the policy was the basis of relations between the world’s two largest economies. The government’s official response came after the Communist Party-owned paper, Global Times, published an opinion piece with the headline: “Trump, please listen clearly, the One China policy cannot be traded” as it warned Trump that China cannot “be easily bullied.”

Mehdi Zolfaghari, of Mehr News International Service reached Professor Robert R. Bianchi in University of Chicago, to ask him about the significance of Trump’s call and the ensuing tension between the US and China. Bianchi believes that if Trump tries to use economic maneuvering in ways that threatens Chinese security, hardliners in Beijing will not assume he is bluffing or horse trading; therefore, Europe is just as dispensable as Taiwan and the president-elect will surrender it in advance:

Donald Trump has recently made a contact with the head of Taiwan. This is the first call of the US leadership to Taiwan after 37 years. What is the reason behind it?

Trump is precisely the type of operator Taiwan should avoid. He is virtually offering Taipei to Beijing on a silver platter while sniffing the rewards he hopes to extract from the bargain. People in Taiwan and every other East Asian country suspect that American security guarantees are empty and that it is just a matter of time until Washington and Beijing divide the Pacific Basin into spheres of influence. Trump’s telephone ploy will stoke their worst fears of abandonment, making them more susceptible to Chinese pressures and more likely to escalate their costly arms races.

Given the economic dependency of the US on China, what is the right approach of Washington toward Beijing?

Today’s China is a champion of free trade while the US is sliding toward protectionism. China will be happy to arm wrestle over the details of economic policy because they are confident they can defend their interests and continue to close the wealth and power gaps with the US. But many Chinese leaders expect the US will try to provoke a war in order to derail China’s rise and to crush its military strength before it matures into a serious rival. If Trump tries to use economic maneuvering in ways that threaten Chinese security, hardliners in Beijing will not assume he is bluffing or horse trading. They’ll conclude that he is preparing for war and that they can’t afford to hold their fire.

Some are of the opinion that Trump had a contact to Taiwan while he was not the official president of the US; therefore, he is after exerting pressure on China. Does he intend to follow suit after swearing in and becoming the official president?

 Guessing games and psychological manipulation are integral elements of statecraft in China and many other countries with longer international experience than the US. If a New York real estate tycoon wants to try his luck with Chinese adversaries, they’ll probably welcome the opportunity to see his gong fu.

Rex Tillerson – a figure who has a warm relationship with Russia- has finally been nominated as the Secretary of State position. How would his nomination affect the US- Russia relationship on the one hand and the US- EU relationship on the other?

Tillerson nomination sends a single message to Moscow and every Western capital—Europe is just as dispensable as Taiwan and the new American president surrenders it in advance.

Robert R. Bianchi is a political scientist and an international lawyer with special interests in China and the Islamic World. He received his doctorate and law degrees at the University of Chicago.

Interview by: Mehdi Zolfaghari