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Donald Trump and China’s leaders could hardly be more different when it comes to communication style.
China’s president Xi Jinping is partial to the carefully scripted policy proclamation impenetrably cloaked in slogans, whereas the U.S. president-elect — as much of the world knows by now — is more partial to the shock-and-awe tactics of a late-night Twitter tirade.
And, increasingly, China is one of Trump’s preferred targets.
In several tweets since the election, Trump has struck out at Beijing on issues ranging from trade and Taiwanese sovereignty to the South China Sea and North Korea. Some of the statements suggest a policy view that — if acted upon — would represent a dramatic departure from U.S. diplomatic precedent, possibly inciting tension or conflict between the world’s two largest economies.
This week, China’s state media made clear that they are growing weary of the provocative missives, essentially telling Trump enough with the Twitter already.
The country’s state news agency, Xinhua, ran a commentary piece Tuesday under the headline, “An obsession with ‘Twitter foreign policy’ is undesirable.” “It’s commonly accepted that diplomacy isn’t a child’s game, and even less is it like doing business deals,” the article said.
The day before, Trump had issued a characteristically huffy tweet implying that China wasn’t doing enough to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
“Issuing tweets has become a habit for Mr. Trump,” Xinhua said Tuesday, adding that the president-elect seemed to think that “making hard-line comments and taking up sensitive issues may perhaps add to his pile of chips for negotiating with other countries.”
The news outlet acknowledged that Trump was unlikely to forswear social media, but went on: “Twitter shouldn’t become an instrument of foreign policy.” (Trump’s transition team has indicated that he plans to continue making his thoughts known in 140 characters or less from within the White House.)
So far, China’s official response to Trump’s remarks has been relatively measured, with various statements of “serious concern” emerging from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Twitter, like most Western social media services, has been banned in China for years, so it’s not fully clear how, or where, the Chinese leadership is reading Trump’s statements. Apparently, they have a few people on it.
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