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Tsai-Trump phone not indication of policy shift: ex-U.S. official

ROC Central News Agency

2016/12/04 13:55:22

Washington, Dec. 3 (CNA) A former deputy spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, Alan D. Romberg, has called a phone conversation between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump a success as long as it did not signal a shift in U.S. policy.

"Assuming that this phone call was not a signal of a shift away from the U.S. policy that has successfully worked for several decades to allow strong U.S. ties with Taiwan without disrupting U.S-PRC (People's Republic of China) relations," said Romberg, currently a distinguished fellow and director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center, on Saturday.

He also said the call "won't have lasting effect," and that Beijing's limited response was probably based on an understanding "that at this early date Trump is not deeply familiar with the nuances of the policy or the sensitivity of the issue."

In other words, the response was confined to a protest and cautionary words about the dangers of departing from the "one China" policy, Romberg said, commenting on the "historic" phone conversation, which was the first publicly reported call between a U.S. president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader since 1979, when Washington switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The conversation, which took place on Dec. 2 and lasted for a little over 10 minutes, sparked debate and speculation as to the foreign policy of a Trump administration.

Romberg said if he was wrong in his assumption and Trump is intent on changing the fundamentals of U.S. Taiwan policy, "then U.S-PRC relations could face very rocky times ahead."

But he predicted that situation is highly unlikely.

"Trump has already indicated he wants constructive relations with Beijing. So while he will doubtless want to maintain and even strengthen practical relations with Taiwan, it would be surprising if he intended to embark on a major, and fraught, departure from long-standing policy," the expert in Asia affairs said.

Romberg has had a career working on Asian-related issues, including 27 years in the State Department, before joining in September 2000 Stimson, a Washington D.C-based nonpartisan policy research center.

During his time at the State Department, Romberg served as principal deputy director of policy planning staff, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs and deputy spokesman.

(By Tony Liao and Elizabeth Hsu)
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