China lodges for­mal com­plaint over Trump’s talk to Tai­wan head.

China lodges for­mal com­plaint over chat, says is­land still re­mains its ter­ri­tory

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY GUY TAY­LOR

TAIPEI, TAI­WAN | Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and an­a­lysts here are cel­e­brat­ing be­hind the scenes over Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen’s phone con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, even as con­cerns mount over po­ten­tial fall­out with China, where author­i­ties ex­pressed out­rage over the de­vel­op­ment over the week­end.

Fri­day’s call is be­lieved to be the first in 40 years be­tween a Tai­wanese leader and an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent-elect in the wake of the 1979 “One China” pol­icy, in which Wash­ing­ton rec­og­nized China as the sole le­gal gov­ern­ment of the Chi­nese peo­ple and cut off of­fi­cial diplo­matic re­la­tions with Tai­wan, which Beijing re­gards as its ter­ri­tory. The Taipei Times de­scribed the con­ver­sa­tion as a “land­mark event.”

The phone call and Mr. Trump’s tweet­ing about it have been widely per­ceived as a his­toric nod by the in­com­ing U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion to Tai­wanese sovereignty, but of­fi­cials close to Ms. Tsai spent the week­end try­ing to down­play the no­tion that any ma­jor shift in pol­icy is at play.

Tsai spokesman Alex Huang said over the week­end that Tai­wan val­ues its ties with China and the United States and that the is­land’s ef­forts to im­prove the two sep­a­rate sets of re­la­tions do not con­flict with each other.

“As far as Tai­wan is con­cerned, good re­la­tions across the Tai­wan Strait and good re­la­tions with the United States are equally im­por­tant, and both are very help­ful to peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion,” Mr. Huang said.

Ms. Tsai’s rise to the Tai­wanese pres­i­dency last year prompted hope in Wash­ing­ton for a more pro-U.S. gov­ern­ment than that of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeo, a mem­ber of Tai­wan’s Chi­nese Na­tion­al­ist Party who had spent the pre­vi­ous eight years adopt­ing a more con­cil­ia­tory pos­ture to­ward Beijing.

A Tai­wanese source who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity Sun­day said that the last thing the Tsai gov­ern­ment ac­tu­ally wants is for the Trump call to trig­ger diplo­matic fric­tion be­tween Taipei and Beijing.

“We do not want to play [this] up to con­front China,” the source told a re­porter from The Wash­ing­ton Times vis­it­ing Taipei on a trip spon­sored by the U.S.-backed East-West Cen­ter.

China lodged a diplo­matic protest on Satur­day over the Trump-Tsai call and blamed the Tsai gov­ern­ment for en­gag­ing in the call as a “petty” move. China’s For­eign Min­istry, ac­cord­ing to Reuters, said it had lodged “stern” protests with what it called the “rel­e­vant U.S. side,” urg­ing the care­ful han­dling of the Tai­wan is­sue to avoid any un­nec­es­sary dis­tur­bances in ties.

“The ‘one China’ prin­ci­ple is the po­lit­i­cal ba­sis of the China-U.S. re­la­tion­ship,” it said in word­ing that im­plied the protest had gone di­rectly to the Trump camp.

Mean­while, there was con­fu­sion over who ini­ti­ated the phone call. It also was un­clear whether Mr. Trump had en­gaged in a rookie for­eign pol­icy mis­take by tweet­ing about the call or in a strate­gic move to ad­vise China to ready it­self for a more mus­cu­lar pos­ture from the in­com­ing U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mr. Trump tweeted Fri­day that the Tai­wanese pres­i­dent called him, but the Taipei Times re­ported the call was ar­ranged by Ed­win Feul­ner, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the con­ser­va­tive Her­itage Foun­da­tion who serves as an ad­viser to Mr. Trump.

Tai­wanese of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on who ini­ti­ated the Trump-Tsai call, say­ing only that it was held at 11 p.m. Taipei time on Fri­day and lasted roughly 10 min­utes, with Ms. Tsai con­grat­u­lat­ing Mr. Trump on his vic­tory and telling him he will make an “ex­cel­lent pres­i­dent.”

The two also shared views on gov­er­nance, es­pe­cially on pro­mot­ing do­mes­tic eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and strength­en­ing na­tional de­fense to en­sure a bet­ter, safer life for the pub­lic, of­fi­cials close to Ms. Tsai said in a state­ment. On Tai­wan-U.S. re­la­tions, specif­i­cally, Ms. Tsai ex­pressed the wish of strength­en­ing bi­lat­eral ex­changes and con­tacts and es­tab­lish­ing closer co­op­er­a­tion re­la­tions.

While crit­ics in Wash­ing­ton lam­basted Mr. Trump for break­ing with decades of pro­to­col in speak­ing with Ms. Tsai, Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence shot back Sun­day, de­fend­ing Mr. Trump while hurl­ing crit­i­cism at the out­go­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mr. Pence said on ABC’s “This Week” that he was “mys­ti­fied” that those out­raged over the “cour­tesy call” had no prob­lem with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s outreach to Cuba.

● Va­lerie Richard­son con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.