WASHINGTON - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump questioned Sunday whether the United States should continue its "one China" policy that includes its Taiwan province, unless Beijing offers concessions on trade and other issues.
"I don't want China dictating to me," Trump said in a wide-ranging interview on Fox News. He defended his recent phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first contact between a Taiwan leader and a U.S. president or president-elect since 1979, when the United States acknowledged that Taiwan was part of a unified China.
"I don't know why we have to be bound by a one China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade," Trump said.
South China Sea
The president-elect criticized China over its currency policies, its military build-up in the South China Sea and its failure to block neighboring North Korea from conducting nuclear arms tests.
"We're being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don't tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn't be doing, and frankly with not helping us at all with North Korea," Trump said. "You have North Korea. You have nuclear weapons and China could solve that problem and they're not helping us at all."
Trump's statement miscast Chinese and U.S. tariffs on exported products entering each country. China imposes levies ranging from five to 9.7 percent on U.S. goods, while the United States collects 2.5 to 2.9 percent tariffs.
Call to Taiwan leader
Trump said it would have been disrespectful to not take the call from the Taiwan leader congratulating him on his election, saying he had a couple hours notice that the call was coming, not weeks or longer as some U.S. media reports have indicated.
"It was a very nice call, short," Trump said. "And why should some other nation be able to say I can't take a call?"
China criticized Trump's acceptance of the call, but had no immediate reaction to his comments in the interview. After Trump's phone conversation with the Taiwan leader, senior White House officials assured Chinese officials that the United States' "one China" policy remained intact.
During the interview, Trump also said he does not need to receive a presidential intelligence briefing every day because he said they are repetitive from day to day.
“You know, I'm, like, a smart person," Trump said. "I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years, but eight years I don't need that. But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know.’”
He said that when he becomes president on January 20, his eldest children and his Trump company executives would run his global business empire and he would have nothing to do with its management. But he stopped short of saying he would divest his holdings, as ethics critics have said he needs to do in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest with the decisions he makes as the U.S. leader.
Trump is planning to make a statement Thursday on the details of how he will separate himself from the Trump Organization when he assumes power.
He said he is "open-minded" on environmental issues and whether the United States should remain supportive of the worldwide agreement reached in Paris for controlling greenhouse gas emissions that scientists have concluded are leading to dangerous global climate changes.