Beijing has warned US president-elect that the one-China principle is not subject to negotiation, and observers said Donald Trump is miscalculating if he wants to use it for leverage.
A week before taking office, Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that "Everything is under negotiation including one China."
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement on Saturday, "The one-China principle, which is the political foundation of the China-US relations, is nonnegotiable."
"The government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China," Lu said. "That is the fact acknowledged by the international community, and no one can change it."
"We urge relevant parties in the US to fully recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan question, approach Taiwan-related issues with prudence, and honor the commitment made by all previous US administrations of both parties on adhering to the one-China policy and the principles of the three joint communiques," it said.
The three China-US joint communiques were issued between 1972 and 1982 to guide China-US relations.
Teng Jianqun, research director at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said it was necessary for the ministry to make timely comments on what he said was Trump's radical rhetoric aimed to test how China would respond.
"It is totally unacceptable to China for Trump to treat China-US relations as a business for transactions," Teng said.
He suggested the government respond strongly to any such remark and also remain coolheaded in formulating related policies.
Dong Chunling, a researcher on US studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that the one-China principle is common sense, the cornerstone and bottom line for relations between China and the US.
"Trump is miscalculating if he wants to use this as a bargaining chip," he said.
Such remarks have raised hurdles for Sino-US relations, and increased the likelihood of friction between the two sides, Dong said.
Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of US Studies of Renmin University of China, said he believed the one-China principle is not only nonnegotiable — such provocations could trigger serious countermeasures from China.
If, after inauguration, Trump continues to attack or disavows the one-China principle, there could be no cooperation between Beijing and Washington, Shi said. Beijing could respond by taking severe diplomatic moves, including recalling its ambassador and degrading the diplomatic relationship, Shi added.
But Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Associated Press on Sunday, "Trump has not taken office yet, so he is an ordinary person now."