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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Shattering diplomacy, U.S. President-elect speaks to Taiwan president, irking China

His highly unusual moves

Share on Facebook December 3, 2016, Reporter : Big News Network, Reader : 515

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BEIJING, China - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is already breaking barriers and shattering diplomacy. < BNN

Over the last week, Trump has engaged in calls with many international leaders and his highly unusual moves are sure to have widespread repercussions. 

On Saturday, China lashed out at Taiwan after it was reported that Trump spoke to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan in a ten minute phone call. 

China considers the self-ruled island Taiwan as its own, under its ‘one China’ policy.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter had switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China.”

However, relationship between China and U.S. too have remained strained since the U.S. maintains a close, albeit unofficial, relationship with the self-governing island.

The move is said to have prompted reassurances from the White House that was likely to anger China.
Trump’s transition team provided a readout of the call that said Trump spoke with the Taiwanese President and noted the “close economic, political and security ties” between both the nations.

The statement said, “President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year.”

Taiwan’s presidential office too released a statement after the call and said the two discussed strengthening bilateral interactions and establishing closer cooperation.

The complicated international relationship is said to have traversed over three decades by six U.S. presidents. 

U.S. doesn’t maintain an embassy in Taipei, but Taiwan keeps government representatives in Washington, DC, and other cities.
After reports emerged, with many experts predicting a miffed China, Trump took to Twitter to clarify that Tsai had initiated the call. “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” he said.

Further, a spokesman for Tsai, Alex Huang said in a statement, “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”

Hours after the phone call, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blamed Taiwan for the exchange.

China however maintained that it was confident Washington’s “one China” policy would not change.

According to Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, Wang was speaking at an academic forum and said, “This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action. It is impossible to change the one-China pattern already formed by the international community. The one-China principle is the cornerstone of the healthy development of the Sino-U.S. relations, and we do not want any interference or destruction of this political foundation.”

The ministry of foreign affairs office even said, “China “firmly” opposes any interaction between the U.S. and Taiwan.”

Interestingly, even though U.S. and Taiwan do not share formal diplomatic ties - Washington is Taiwan’s most important political ally and sole arms supplier.

In 2015, reports pointed out that the U.S. sold nearly $2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan in the face of strong opposition from the Chinese government.

Lashing out at critics, Trump even pointed this out on Twitter on Saturday and said, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

Ned Price, a national security spokesman for President Barack Obama released a statement soon after and said, “We remain firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy. Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was quoted as saying that Trump was entitled to change policy, but warned that his approach was potentially dangerous.

Murphy, a Democrat, said on Twitter, “Foreign policy consistency is a means, not an end. It’s not sacred. Thus, it’s Trump’s right to shift policy, alliances, strategy. What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start.”

Earlier this week, Trump lavished praise on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani leader’s office even called Trump a “terrific guy.”

Despite years of tension between the two countries, Trump lavished praise on Sharif and Pakistan in the two leaders' recent phone conversation.

According to the Pakistan government's released readout of the conversation. 

Trump said “Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people.”

Trump also told Pakistan’s prime minister that he had a “very good reputation,” 

He reportedly added, “You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way.”

Trump invited Pakistan’s prime minister to call him any time before he is inaugurated on January 20. 

“Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities,” Trump said, according to the readout. “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

Trump hasn’t always had such a friendly attitude towards Pakistan. In recent years, he published tweets in which he insisted Pakistan “is not our friend,” and shouldn’t be considered an “ally” of the United States.

And in a tongue-in-cheek response, India said it is looking forward to Trump addressing what it referred to as Pakistan's 'most outstanding of outstanding problems' -- terrorism.

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