Trump speaks to Taiwan President over phone in major departure from US policy on China
The phone call, and the break from US policy, is sure to anger Beijing. Photograph: (Getty)
Donald Trump has spoken to the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, over the phone in what is considered a major break from normal US policy regarding China that is sure to anger Beijing.
Ever since 1978, the US under President Carter's administration has followed a "One China" policy, which recognises Beijing as the only government of both mainland China and Taiwan. Washington closed its Taiwan embassy in 1979.
The New York Times reported that this phone call is believed to be the first contact between a US president or president-elect since 1979.
The Washington Post quoted a former top China adviser to President Obama, Evan Medeiros, who now advises the Eurasia Group, as saying, "This phone call calls into question whether or not Trump adheres to the basic foundation of the US-China relationship...this action guarantees that US-China relations under Trump will get off to a very rock start".
The Washington Post reports that as Taiwan's economic power and international recognition as a state independent from mainland China has decreased in recent years, Taiwan has put together a renewed and expensive diplomatic effort aimed at winning over Washington officials and journalists.
The Washington Post also reports that Trump had apparently considered investing in hotels in Taiwan earlier this year: citing a China Times report, the mayor of Taoyuan in November said that a Trump Organization representative had visited and showed interest in constructing hotels. Mr Trump has said that he will separate himself from his businesses before he is officially made president on January 20.
The Washington Post reports that most of the 50 phone calls made since the November 8 US election between state leaders and president-elect Donald Trump or vice president-elect Mike Pence have come without the knowledge or guidance of the State Department.
An official statement put out by Taiwan said: "The (Taiwanese) president is looking forward to strengthening bilateral interactions and contacts as well as setting up closer co-operative relations."
Tsai's office further told the Associated Press, "The president also told US President-elect Trump that she hopes the US will continue to support Taiwan's effort in having more opportunities to participate in and contribute to international affairs in the future.
The statement also said the two nations "shared ideas and concepts" on "promoting domestic economic development and strengthening national defence" to improve the lives of ordinary people.
Trump's transition team released a statement saying he spoke with Tsai Ing-wen, who congratulated Mr Trump. "During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties...between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year."
On Friday night, President-elect Trump took to the social media site Twitter to defend his actions.
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016