Trump’s Asia Advisors Want to Scrap “Three Communiques” With China

UCS Blog Series Discusses Presidential Transition and China

Published Dec 8, 2016

WASHINGTON (December 8, 2016)—Two Asia experts advising the Trump transition team, Randy Schriver and Dan Blumenthal, suggested the president-elect should scrap a set of official diplomatic agreements with China known as the “three communiques” – a radical change that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said Congress and national security experts should know may be in the offing. 

Both men are being considered for senior positions in the Trump administration. 

“This latest development strongly suggests President-elect Trump intends to bring the Nixon-Kissinger Era in U.S.-China Relations to a close,” said Gregory Kulacki, China project manager with the Global Security Program at UCS. “It also indicates Trump’s telephone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen was more than just a courtesy call.” 

The “three communiques” are a set of formal statements jointly issued by the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC). The first communique, known as the Shanghai Communique, was issued in February of 1972 during President Richard Nixon's historic trip to China. The second communique, the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, became effective on January 1, 1979. The third communique, the Joint Communique on Arms Sales to Taiwan, was issued on August 17, 1982. 

“These three agreements are the foundation of contemporary U.S.-China relations,” said Kulacki. “They define the legal parameters of the relationship, most importantly U.S. and PRC relations with Taiwan.” 

In a blog series, Kulacki outlines the changes to U.S. China policy that are taking shape during the presidential transition under the direction of a new team of Asia experts who believe the United States needs a radical break with the past. 

“The changes that are being discussed will introduce an enormous amount of uncertainty about U.S. intentions in Asia,” said Kulacki. “Given the importance of the U.S.-China relationship, and the potential consequences of a unilateral abrogation of official diplomatic agreements that have defined that relationship for decades, Congress needs to exercise due diligence.”