Conservatives praise Trump over Taiwan phone call

Sunday, December 04, 2016

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Amid an outpouring of condemnation over President-elect Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, some prominent US conservatives are commending his decision to take her call.


Trump’s conversation with Tsai on Friday broke decades of US diplomatic policy, risking a serious rift with China by calling into question one of Beijing’s self-described "core interests" — the "One China" policy.


Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 and no US president or president-elect is believed to have spoken to a Taiwanese leader since then. Some US conservatives, however, see no evil in the Friday call.


"I would much rather have Donald Trump talking to President Tsai than to Cuba’s Raul Castro or Iran’s Hasan Rouhani," Texas Senator Ted Cruz — Trump’s main challenger and a fierce critic during this year’s Republican primary race — tweeted on Saturday. "This is an improvement."


President Barack Obama has spoken with Rouhani by phone, and met Castro on a trip to Cuba.


Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman under former president George W Bush, didn’t think that accepting the call was a bad idea.


"China has been increasingly aggressive with us because they know we won’t do anything meaningful about it," Fleischer tweeted. "I don’t mind Trump pushing back."


China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move implying support for independence — even calling Tsai ‘president,’ as Trump did in a tweet announcing the call — prompts grave offence in China.


But some critics thought that Trump had crossed a dangerous line.


"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," tweeted Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.


Senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway brushed aside the criticism, insisting that the call did not necessarily indicate a change of policy.


"Senator Murphy’s tweet is pretty incendiary," she told
CNN late Friday. "This is how wars are starting and it is a major policy shift because you get a phone call? That is pretty negative."


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