French foreign minister says Trump's approach to China is 'not clever'


The French foreign minister has described Donald Trump’s approach to as “not very clever”, warning the US president-elect not to threaten or lecture Beijing as “we do not talk like that to a partner”.

Jean-Marc Ayrault was responding to Trump’s with China, as well as his surprise decision to to the Taiwan president, Tsai Ing-wen.

over the phone call, which it saw as a breach of the “one China” principle that officially considers the independently governed island to be part of the same single Chinese nation as the mainland.

In an unusual piece of public advice to an incoming US president, Ayrault told TV channel 2: “Beware of China. It is a great country. There may be disagreements with China, but we do not talk like that to a partner. We must avoid getting into a spiral where things are out of control.

“When China feels challenged on its unity, that is not necessarily very clever. We will have to be very careful, but we can hope as the days go by the new American team has learned enough to manage an uncertain work with more coolness and responsibility.”

Trump stood firm on the issue on Sunday, saying the US did not necessarily have to stick to its longstanding position that Taiwan is part of one China.

By the beginning of this week, the . On Monday, Beijing warned any individual who threatened China’s interests in Taiwan that it would “lift a rock that would crush his feet”.

On Wednesday, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan affairs office, said a US approach that threatened stability in the region.

“Upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis of developing China-US relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “If this basis is interfered with or damaged, then the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted.”

Until now, the French government has made little noise about the election of Trump, as it tries to gauge the extent of his likely influence on foreign policy, including towards Iran and Russia.

Broadly, the view in France is that Trump has little to gain from a downturn in relations with China when so much else needs to be addressed in Europe and the Middle East. French politicians are anxious that Trump does not seek to and have noticed that China has been publicly advising the US not to do so.

On Monday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, urged all sides to stick to the . Without mentioning the US directly, Wang said: “Maintaining the deal’s continued, comprehensive and effective implementation is the responsibility and common interest of all parties, and should not be impacted by changes in the internal situation of each country.”

Ayrault has a history of speaking his mind, having accused the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, of . In an interview with CNN during the US presidential election campaign, he as “very confused”.

On Wednesday, he said the Trump administration would be judged by its deeds, but the US president-elect had selected .

Although the polls suggest that Ayrault’s Socialist party is highly unlikely to retain the presidency in the French election next year, it is difficult to predict how Trump will react to being lectured in public on the art of diplomacy.

He is more in the rightwing candidate Francois Fillon, the favourite for the presidency.