Former US ambassador: Trump ‘winging it’ with Taiwan call
WASHINGTON — Continuing with the theme that paced his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump was anything but a traditional politician on Friday, holding a phone call with the President of Taiwan.
With a Twitter post Friday evening, the business mogul declared the call was of a congratulatory nature and came directly from President Tsai Ing-wen.
Trump’s transition team backed up the President-elect’s tweet, adding that “during the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States.”
Regardless of the nature of the call, it’s an act that bucks normal diplomatic protocol, and in the eyes of critics, could pose a dangerous threat to the United States.
Appearing on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” former US Ambassador Christopher Hill noted just how rare Trump’s decision was.
“Eight years during the Reagan administration, this (a call between US and Taiwanese leaders) never happened. Four years during the Bush Senior administration, this never happened. Eight years of Clinton, eight years of George W. Bush and eight years of Obama,” said Hill, who served as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under Bush 43.
Trump’s conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen marks the first publicly reported call between a U.S. President or President-elect, and a Taiwanese leader, since 1979, and Hill said it represents a scary tendency to act without a proper understanding of diplomacy.
“It was an example of what is all too often happening now with this incoming administration, this tendency to wing it,” he told Burnett. “What I’m concerned about is that rather than acknowledge a mistake, they will double down on it.”
Still more than a month away from Trump’s inauguration, Hill said he believes the nation is likely to be subjected to a wide swath of future instances of rash decision-making.
“This is not going to be the last of these kind of things. So, things need to get cleaned up and cleaned up in a hurry in Washington,” said Hill.
In 1979, the United States acknowledged a set of of protocols formally known as the “One China Policy,” a belief system that features Taiwan as part of China. There exists rampant concern that Trump’s call with Taiwan will enrage China, and fracture relations between the nations.
By Friday night, China had already reached out to the Obama administration. White House officials declined to comment on diplomatic discussions.