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Shaun Rein is the founder of the China Market Research Group (CMR) and author of

"The End of Cheap China" and "The End of Copycat China." The views expressed he
re are his own.
(CNN)Donald Trump's call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen upended 40 years of
US foreign policy. Ever since 1979, America has acknowledged a One-China policy
and terminated formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
No American president, cautious of provoking China, has spoken with the island's
president since then.
Even President Ronald Reagan, stalwart defender of democracy and opponent of com
munism, refused to cross any red line by speaking with the president of Taiwan.
Concerns by foreign policy experts are that the call indicates Trump is a bumbli
ng, rank amateur when it comes to foreign policy, who hasn't consulted with the
State Department prior to calls with foreign leaders, and will hurt American pre
stige at best, or, at worst, is a loose cannon that is leading America to war wi
th China.
In response to critics of his call, Trump has forcefully and quickly pushed back
, with a series of tweets Sunday singling out China's currency policy and milita
ry posturing in the South China Sea.
Brilliant move with little downside
The reality is that Trump's move to speak on the phone with President Tsai is br
illiant and has little downside.
With a simple 10-minute phone call, rather than selling billions of arms to Taiw
an, Trump shows American strength in the Asia-Pacific region and may well actual
ly making the region safer.
Unlike President Barack Obama and his Asia pivot policy, which the Chinese have
generally ignored -- as evidenced by their continued reclamation of land in the
South China Sea -- they are now going to pause and rethink all of their strategi
es to take Trump seriously.
Nothing is more sacred to Beijing than one-party rule and sovereignty over land
and ocean that China considers its own. Everything else is open to negotiation.
Trump has not said that he doesn't acknowledge the One-China policy, nor is he t
he actual president yet.
By having a call now before he is sworn in, he will have additional leverage to
negotiate with China on more core American interests than the matter of Taiwan for instance, open shipping lanes in the South China Sea, reduced cybersecurity
risks emanating from China, and less protectionism and unfair competition for A
merican business interests in China.
'One China,' explained 02:20
Paper tiger?
China's muted response to the phone call shows Trump's strategy.
Instead of launching military maneuvers as many American foreign policy experts
feared, the Chinese Foreign Ministry simply lodged a complaint with the US.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US must not disrupt "the One-China pol
icy [which] is the cornerstone of a healthy China-US relationship."
Many China watchers thought China would react militarily. But China does not wan
t to risk war.
In many ways China is like a paper tiger.
It is very good at bullying and shouting to get what it wants and to see how far
it can push other nations, but it is not likely to risk a full-out war at this
It will react militarily only if forced -- such as if Trump actually stops ackno
wledging the One-China policy.
Chinese state media downplayed the call and said that Trump is not yet president
. Instead, state media unleashed their fury on President Tsai, whom they argue i
s intentionally trying to create war.
Rather than launching serious military exercises aimed at America, it is more li
kely that China would implement severe economic sanctions and cause trade proble
ms with Taiwan to punish them economically.

China is currently doing the same thing with South Korea ever since it announced
that it will place THAAD missile defense system on its shores.
The Chinese government is reducing the number of tour groups to South Korea; mov
ie stars from that country have been banned from performing in China; and, recen
tly, the giant conglomerate Lotte has had unprecedented mass audits across the c
China previously banned Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize was given t
o dissident Liu Xiaobo, and reduced trade with Mongolia after it met with the Da
lai Lama.