Donald Trump has done something the United States President hasn’t done since 1979 and China is sure to be furious for it.
On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first time the leaders of each country have spoken since diplomatic relations were cut in 1979.
According to Trump’s transition team, the President-elect and the Taiwanese president “noted the close economic, political, and security ties” while also congratulating each other on winning their respective presidential elections this year.
While it was initially unclear who initiated the call, Donald Trump later clarified via Twitter that it was President Tsai who called him:
While Beijing has yet to respond to Trump’s actions, the move greatly contrasts with a U.S. policy that has held for nearly four decades. Since the Nixon-Mao meetings of 1972, the U.S. has exercised a “One China” policy. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter formally recognized that Beijing is the sole government of China, which includes the state of the Republic of China in Taiwan. The following year, the U.S. embassy in Taipei closed.
According to Evan Medeiros, a former Asia director at the White House national security council, Trump’s call will be a historically provocative move towards Beijing.
“Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations.”
President Tsai’s political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, won the election in a landslide victory against the Kuomintang which had, at least, a closer relationship with Beijing.
Image via Flickr / Gage Skidmore