Trump’s Tai­wan con­tact breaks decades of pol­icy

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Anne Gearan

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump spoke Fri­day with Tai­wan’s pres­i­dent, a ma­jor de­par­ture from decades of U.S. pol­icy in Asia and a breach of diplo­matic pro­to­col with ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the in­com­ing pres­i­dent’s re­la­tions with China.

The call is the first known con­tact be­tween a U.S. pres­i­dent or pres­i­dent-elect with a Tai­wanese leader since be­fore the United States broke diplo­matic re­la­tions with the is­land in 1979. China con­sid­ers Tai­wan a prov­ince, and news of the of­fi­cial out­reach by Trump is likely to in­fu­ri­ate the re­gional mil­i­tary and eco­nomic power.

The ex­change is one of a string of un­ortho­dox con­ver­sa­tions with for­eign lead­ers that Trump has held since his elec­tion. It comes at a par­tic­u­larly tense time be­tween China and Tai­wan, which ear­lier this year elected a pres­i­dent, Tsai Ing-wen, who has not en­dorsed the no­tion of a uni­fied China. Her elec­tion an­gered Bei­jing to the point of cut­ting off all of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the is­land govern­ment.

It is not clear whether Trump in­tends a more for­mal shift in U.S. re­la­tions with Tai­wan or China. On the call, Trump and Tsai con­grat­u­lated each other on win­ning their elec­tions, a state­ment from Trump’s tran­si­tion of­fice said.

“Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, they noted the close eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity ties ... be­tween Tai­wan and the United States,” the state­ment said.

A state­ment from the Tai­wanese pres­i­dent’s of­fice said the call lasted more than 10 min­utes and in­cluded dis­cus­sion of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and na­tional se­cu­rity, and about “strength­en­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.”

Tsai ex­pressed ad­mi­ra­tion for Trump’s suc­cess in a highly com­pet­i­tive elec­tion, the state­ment said.

The Trump-Tsai con­ver­sa­tion was first re­ported by the Fi­nan­cial Times and the Taipei Times.

Ned Price, a White House spokesman, de­clined to com­ment on re­ports that Bei­jing con­tacted the White House on Fri­day. Price em­pha­sized: “There is no change to our long-stand­ing pol­icy on cross-Strait is­sues. We re­main firmly com­mit­ted to our ‘One China’ pol­icy based on the three Joint Com­mu­niques and the Tai­wan Re­la­tions Act. Our fun­da­men­tal in­ter­est is in peace­ful and sta­ble cross-Strait re­la­tions.”

Asked about Trump’s call dur­ing a con­fer­ence on in­ter­na­tional af­fairs in Bei­jing early Satur­day, China’s for­eign min­is­ter, Wang Yi, called it a “small ac­tion” that “can­not change China’s stand­ing in in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety.”

The breach of pro­to­col will “not change the One China pol­icy that the U.S. govern­ment has sup­ported for many years,” he said. “The One China prin­ci­ple is the foun­da­tion for healthy de­vel­op­ment of Sino-U.S. re­la­tions. We don’t wish for any­thing to ob­struct or ruin this foun­da­tion.”

The pres­i­dent-elect tweeted out Fri­day evening, “The pres­i­dent of Tai­wan CALLED ME to­day to wish me con­grat­u­la­tions on win­ning the Pres­i­dency.”

Later, Trump sent an­other tweet, ap­par­ently in re­sponse to crit­i­cism of the Tai­wan

call as po­ten­tially reck­less: “In­ter­est­ing how the U.S. sells Tai­wan bil­lions of dol­lars of mil­i­tary equip­ment but I should not ac­cept a con­grat­u­la­tory call.”

A se­nior ad­viser to Trump sug­gested that he knew about the long­stand­ing U.S. pol­icy to­ward Tai­wan when the call oc­curred.

“He’s well aware of what U.S. pol­icy has been,” Kellyanne Con­way said in an in­ter­view with CNN on Fri­day night.

Con­way bris­tled when asked whether Trump was prop­erly briefed be­fore the call on the govern­ment’s long-stand­ing pol­icy, ques­tion­ing why Pres­i­dent Barack Obama did not re­ceive sim­i­lar queries about his knowl­edge of for­eign af­fairs.

“Pres­i­dent-elect Trump is fully briefed and fully knowl­edge­able about these is­sues ... re­gard­less of who’s on the other end of the phone,” she said.

Ric Grenell, a for­mer Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman at the United Nations, who was spotted vis­it­ing with Trump tran­si­tion team of­fi­cials at Trump Tower on Fri­day, said the pres­i­den­t­elect’s call was planned in ad­vance and that Trump took the call on pur­pose.

“It was to­tally planned,” Grenell said. “It was a sim­ple cour­tesy call. Peo­ple need to calm down. The ‘One China’ pol­icy wasn’t changed. Washington, D.C., types need to lighten up.”

The United States has pur­sued the “One China” pol­icy since 1972, when then-Pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon vis­ited China.In 1978, Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter rec­og­nized Bei­jing as the le­git­i­mate govern­ment of China, and Washington closed its em­bassy in Tai­wan a year later. A de­lib­er­ately am­bigu­ous re­la­tion­ship be­tween Washington and Tai­wan has ex­isted since.

China guards the struc­tures of its for­mal re­la­tion­ship with the United States very care­fully — es­pe­cially the found­ing doc­u­ment that es­tab­lished the One China pol­icy.

U.S. of­fi­cials typ­i­cally tip­toe around any men­tion of Tai­wan or the Chi­nese goal of full re­uni­fi­ca­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.