Xi-Trump axis name of new game for Tsai

Editorial | 21 Apr 2017

US President Donald Trump told his favorite Fox News he had dispatched an armada up to the Korean peninsula to intimidate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

But it turned out the fleet, led by nuclear-powered carrier USS Carl Vinson, has been heading in the opposite direction.

Was this the kind of alternative facts Trump and his aide has always referred to?

As far as he's concerned, he might be amused to see how a remark based on lies could frighten Kim to scramble to amass a military parade and launch another missile that, funnily enough, exploded in mid-air almost immediately after blast-off.

The American commander-in-chief must be joking. Or was he?

Trump would have shielded the truth of the matter, that the Carl Vinson had been sailing south rather than north, if the eagle-eyed media hadn't spotted the anomalies in the background of a Pentagon photograph of the carrier.

During the US presidential election, Trump said he'd keep his opponents guessing. Apparently, he's honoring his word, except his allies too are baffled. Isn't that cynical?

Everybody in Taiwan is probably as puzzled as North Koreans.

Trump may have played up the Taiwan card too when he accorded President Xi Jinping a red-carpet reception at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. A few days after their summit, the mainland media noticeably altered the title of Taiwan's national sports teams from "Chinese Taipei" to "China Taipei."

The unexplained change came to public notice on April 11, when state television identified Taiwan's table tennis team playing in Jiangsu as "China Taipei." For years until April 10, official mainland media had always adhered to the practice of identifying Taiwan's athletic teams as "Chinese Taipei."

The April 11 incident wasn't isolated. Ever since then, "China Taipei" has replaced "Chinese Taipei" in all official material -including print media - in the mainland. Only four days before that, Trump had rolled out the red carpet for Xi, and afterward, boasted about the very good relationship that he had developed with his Chinese counterpart.

As said before, Trump has always been a businessman characterized by his willingness to cut deals - as long as they're considered profitable.

Changing Taiwan's official title in the international sports world is unilateral. It's probable that Taiwan is being squeezed amid the newly cultivated friendship between the leaders of the world's two top powers after their first get-together.

Trump's unconventional act in conversing with Taiwan President Tsai Ing- wen over the phone after his election victory was as deceptive as the maneuvers of the Carl Vinson fleet.

Taiwan is generally thought to be just a pawn on Trump's chessboard, and can readily be sacrificed in return for bigger deals from Beijing.

So will Beijing go all the way to rename Taiwan's sports team "China Taiwan" at the end of the US president's term?

That's a tricky question the Tsai administration can't ignore.

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