Thomas Gallatin / December 5, 2016

Taiwan Calling Trump

He continues to be unafraid of breaking with unnecessary old precedent.

Over the weekend, the Leftmedia was pulling out its collective hair over news that Donald Trump had accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen. Once again Trump has rocked the Washington bureaucratic elites’ boat by breaking with a long-running precedent. Since 1979, no president or president-elect has spoken with a sitting president of Taiwan, due to China’s “one China” policy — a policy the U.S. has acknowledged but never officially adopted.

On Sunday, VP-elect Mike Pence reacted to the media’s over-reaction by pointing to its blatant hypocrisy: “It’s a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from a democratically elected leader in Taiwan and it’s become something of a controversy.”

While some have suggested that this is yet further evidence that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to foreign affairs, it’s a better bet that this was a calculated move aimed at challenging China over its recent power-plays in the East and South China Seas. As The Wall Street Journal stated, “Mr. Trump shouldn’t concede Beijing’s power to intimidate the world’s democracies into isolating Taiwan. The U.S. has an interest in supporting Taiwan as a model for China’s future development. And adapting Taiwan policy could benefit the wider U.S.-China relationship.”

Barack Obama’s policy with the “People’s Republic” has done little to dissuade China’s growing expansionist appetite. A newer approach is needed to both encourage U.S. allies in the region and warn China that the U.S. stands committed to promoting its allies’ continued independence and sovereignty. Clearly, Trump is not afraid to take the call.

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