December 14, 2016 / 7:19 AM / 7 months ago

French foreign minister says Trump's handling of China "not very clever"

2 Min Read

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault speaks during a news briefing after the talks on the crisis in eastern Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, November 29, 2016.Vasily Fedosenko

PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign minister on Wednesday accused U.S. president-elect Donald Trump of showing a lack of respect towards China after comments that put into question the "one China" principle.

Trump said on Sunday the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China", further upsetting China which was already angered by Trump's earlier telephone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

"China is a big country. We can have our differences with China, but you don't talk to a partner like that," Jean-Marc-Ayrault told France 2 television. "When China feels questioned on its unity, that's not exactly very clever."

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday any interference with or damage to the "one China" principle would have a serious impact on peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The issue is highly sensitive for China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, and Beijing expressed "serious concern" about Trump's remarks.

"We need to avoid things spiralling out of control," Ayrault said. "So I hope that the new team will have learnt enough so that we manage an uncertain world with more sang-froid and responsibility."

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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