“At your request, I will do that,” promised President Trump – meekly, and out of character – in a call last Friday with his Chinese counterpart.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Xi Jinping had just asked him to “uphold” the One China Policy.
The news caused some relief, as Xi had made plain that sticking to the framework was an inviolable precondition for Sino-US relations.
That said, Trump was not giving much away by agreeing to Xi’s request. After all, he was only confirming what every US administration has adhered to since the 1970s – Washington’s agreement to withhold diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. The shock was that Trump had previously questioned this bedrock assumption (see WiC349).
While Trump was drawing praise in Beijing for stepping back from his Taipei threat, not all the authorities were delighted by The Donald. As TVB News points out, a judge with China’s Supreme People’s Court took the unusual step of going on social media to criticise the American leader. This time it was not about Taiwan, but Trump’s Twitter-fuelled rant against a Seattle judge who had smacked down Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim nations.
Judge He is an expert on the US legal system, says TVB, having translated many books about the Supreme Court into Chinese. He said the American president was entirely wrong to publicly question the ruling as it violated the principle separating the powers of the executive and judicial branches in the American system. And in his online post, the Chinese judge connected the Trump incident with a case that occurred in Guangxi last month where a judge was murdered after a divorce case got messy.
“The president who scolds judges and the thugs who kill judges are both public enemies of the rule of law,” wrote He.
Such is the topsy-turvy world we live in today: in this case of Trump versus He, the leader of the free world has just been chastised for undercutting the rule of law by a judicial representative of a one-party state.