The Communist Party’s flagship newspaper is urging Chinese leaders to keep cool heads and play the adult should Donald Trump continue to test ties in the run up to his inauguration as president next month.

A commentary published in the People’s Daily overseas edition on Tuesday said China must remain calm in response to “waves” of criticism after Trump announced his protocol-breaking chat with the president of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province. The country had learned from decades of interaction with Washington, according to the front-page piece, which was headlined, “Handling Variables in China-U.S. Relations With Strategic Composure.”

“Some would argue that Trump’s out-of-the-line talk and behavior was meant to poke at China, and that the Chinese should retaliate. Otherwise he might think China is a soft persimmon, easy to pinch,” the commentary said. But the country “doesn’t throw a tantrum to strive for only temporary superiority, or to gain immediate gratification.”

The piece offered insight into China’s measured response since Trump’s Friday telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which he followed up with tweets knocking Beijing over currency and trade policies. The call with Tsai flouted nearly four decades of U.S. policy against recognizing Taiwan’s sovereignty or allowing direct communication between top leaders.

While China lodged a “solemn representation” and urged U.S. authorities to adhere to the so-called one-China principle, it stopped short of criticizing Trump. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi appeared to blame Tsai for the call, describing it as “little trick pulled off by Taiwan,” even though Trump advisers have said the call was planned in advance.


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