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Trump risks angering China by calling Taiwan leader

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 3, 2016 1:4AM

US President-elect Donald Trump has talked over the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a historic move that is likely to anger China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Trump talked to Tsai over the phone on Friday, becoming the first US president or president-elect to hold a conversation with Taiwan's leader since severing ties with the territory in 1979, the Financial Times reported.

Trump's transition team said Trump and Tsai discussed "the close economic, political, and security ties" between the two sides.

It was not clear if the Republican president-elect's transition team had arranged the phone call or Tsai had reached out first.

The move signals a major change in US foreign policy and is slated to infuriate China, although Beijing has not reacted yet.

Upon the beginning of Tsai's presidential term in May, Beijing urged her to acknowledge that Taiwan was part of "One China."

"The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions," argued Evan Medeiros, former Asia director at the White House national security council.

"Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China's perceptions of Trump's strategic intentions for the negative," he added.

Ever since a 1972 meeting between then US President Richard Nixon and his Chinese counterpart Mao Zedong, Washington has adopted the "One China" policy.

In 1978, former President Jimmy Carter officially declared Beijing the only government of China. The US government closed its embassy in Taipei the following year.

Meanwhile, Dennis Wilder, former top White House Asia adviser during the George W Bush administration, said China should not "over-interpret" the call.

Trump's other controversial calls

This was not Trump's first controversial conversation with world leaders since winning the November 8 election.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's government said Friday that Trump had invited the anti-US leader to visit the White House next year.

The president-elect also raised eyebrows in India by calling Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif an "amazing" leader in a phone call on Wednesday.

The White House advised Trump on Thursday to make use of the State Department's policy makers and diplomats in contacting the foreign leaders.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong were two other leaders who spoke with Trump on Friday.

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