We Don’t See a Problem With Trump’s Phone Call With Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

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Donald Trump took a call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. She called to congratulate Trump and to express confidence in a future economic relationship between the two countries. The call was unusual in the sense that it was the first time a Taiwanese president has spoken with a US President or President-elect since official diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed in 1979.

China is perturbed over the call and issued a formal complaint with the United States. “We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement. I must point out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory … The ‘one China’ principle is the political foundation of China-US relations.”

As to be anticipated, the liberal media and Democrats were quick to criticize Trump over the telephone exchange. Some said he has proven that he is comfortable with “winging it” and “learning on the job.” In his defense, Trump tweeted: “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

Trump’s transition team described the conversation as a discussion “of the close economic, political and security ties that exist between Taiwan and the United States,” in which the president-elect also congratulated Tsai on her election earlier this year.

The Taiwanese president characterized the phone call as an “intimate and relaxed conversation” that lasted 10 minutes.

The New York Times and other publications have said that the call was orchestrated beforehand: Some say the Heritage Foundation (with Koch Brother influence) was behind the call.

Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said on Saturday that the former head of a conservative US think tank played a “crucial” role in the lead-up to the call. The agency said on Saturday that Edwin Feulner, the founder of the Washington-based group, was a “crucial figure” in setting up communication channels between the parties.

Trump’s adviser Peter Navarro, has visited Taiwan earlier this year and spoke with officials there. Navarro has been critical of the Obama Administration’s treatment of Taiwan. He said in a recent article for Foreign Policy magazine, Barack Obama’s treatment of Taiwan had been “egregious.”

Weeks before the phone call a Ms. Chen reportedly arrived from the United States in September to meet the mayor of Taoyuan. Once in Taiwan, the two allegedly discussed the “Aerotropolis” project, a massive construction endeavor being planned near Taiwan’s main airport, Taoyuan International. Ms. Chen was alleged to represent herself as a Trump spokesperson interested in building a Trump hotel at the scene.

The New York Times reported, “In a statement on Friday, Amanda Miller, the vice president for marketing at the Trump Organization, disputed that the company was pursuing any real estate deals in Taiwan. ‘There have been no authorized visits to Taiwan on behalf of Trump Hotels for the purposes of development, nor are there any active conversations,’ she said. ‘We are not planning any expansion into Taiwan.’”

OUR FREE OPINION

Donald Trump was elected in large part because his supporters wanted him to shake things up, not conduct his affair in the same unimaginable fashion that politicians have been executing for too many years. China is posturing now, we can expect some idle threats, that in the long run, won’t amount to more than a hill of beans. Trump’s approach is refreshing– we encourage him to keep being distinctive, agitating the pot, and get things done without worrying about protocol.

About the hotel issue, there is a natural benefit to being a billionaire and the President of the United States. There is also likely to be many potential scenarios in the future where potential conflicts of interest may emerge. The key is for Trump to keep a wall between the office and the financial interests of his companies: He has said that his children will operate his business entities and this practice may well solve the potential problems.

In this case, however, there does not appear to be any quid pro quo between the two entities: Rather, Trump’s phone conversation apparently violated protocol. We don’t have a problem with that.

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