By Tina Konyue, CNN • Updated 12th December 2016
In an announcement first reported by Taiwan’s top-level English-language newspaper, the Wall Street Journal said President-elect Donald Trump’s administration intends to invite Taipei to join the summit.
The Journal reported that the invitation for China’s “worst fear” came after Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke with Taiwan’s acting President Tsai Ing-wen at an “emergency meeting.”
According to the report, China’s ambassador to the US told the US ambassador to China that if Taiwan were accepted to the summit, the move would amount to a “severe breach of historical arrangements.”
However, two US-based former diplomats told CNN that their own knowledge of the matter was that no agreement had been reached.
‘Embrace of democracy’
The White House did not comment on the invitation and said “such a scheduling decision would be in line with the usual practice and in the interest of the national security of the United States.”
“The United States has maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1979 and is committed to the One China Policy,” an official statement added.
The 1980s US rapprochement with Taiwan saw Washington open a full diplomatic mission on the island and officially recognize it as an independent government, both steps initiated by then-President Jimmy Carter.
The invitation comes as President Obama prepares to leave office in early January, leaving President-elect Trump with a fractured precedent set by President Obama.
“It’s symbolic,” one adviser to Obama told the Journal of the invitation. “It’s the foundation for a bit of a personal relationship with President-elect Trump.”
The new pro-Beijing president-elect and leader of the world’s largest creditor country is expected to take office early next year, cementing Taiwan’s status as a ‘non-ally’ in the US.
According to Beijing, it has not allowed Taiwan to join the annual One China Summit since 2003.
The invitation comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and China over Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Beijing has been embroiled in a bitter sovereignty dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands, since 2012 and claims Japanese-controlled islands in the South China Sea as its own.
Outgoing President Obama has repeatedly insisted the US will maintain its engagement with Taiwan, but he has done so while deeply distancing the United States from China.
Observers say Taiwan is the first signal of continued opposition to China’s will on the part of the Trump team.
Trump has said he will tear up the Obama-China trade deal and criticized China for its economic and military muscle-flexing.