The global implications of Donald Trump’s use of Twitter have come under scrutiny this week, as his lack of foreign policy experience and diplomatic tact was exposed in a series of interactions with China.
The US president-elect first risked a serious diplomatic rift with Beijing by speaking directly to Taiwan’s president on the phone. This was followed by a series of tweets on Monday criticising China’s monetary policy and its operations in the South China Sea.
Trump’s use of Twitter is an “unprecedented experiment” that has “opened a window” on the presidency unlike any before, says the Julie Davis in the New York Times.
His habit of making unguarded and unvetted statements direct to the public has “fascinating implications”, she adds. It will affect how the world reads “official proclamations” from the White House, particularly in the event of a diplomatic incident.
Davis continues: “I’m mystified at the notion that we should somehow ignore what are by most accounts completely unrehearsed, un-poll-tested utterances from the mouth of the person who’s about to become president of the United States.”
With Trump’s tweets touching on highly sensitive issues, “China must decide how to handle an incoming American president who relishes confrontation and whose online statements appear to foreshadow shifts in foreign policy”, says Reuters.