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Washington-Beijing Relations Disturbed by Phone Call | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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combination of two photos shows U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, left, and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. AP

New York – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has put an end to a 40-year diplomatic tradition with Beijing and the Island of Taiwan, during a phone call with the President of Taiwan. However, Trump has weirdly explained the call in a Twitter post saying that the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, called to congratulate him on his victory.

China lodged a diplomatic protest on Saturday afterwards and blamed the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own for the “petty” move. “The one China principle is the political basis of the China-U.S. relationship,” it said.

The 10-minute telephone call with Taiwan’s leadership was the first by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China”.

Chris Murphy, a Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, publicly blasted Trump for his actions in a series of tweets. He said that what has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy without any plan, and that’s how wars start. Murphy also urged to appoint a secretary of state who has the sufficient experience.

The Trump transition team said in a statement that Trump and Tsai discussed the close economic, political and security ties that exist between Taiwan and the United States.

The statement added that Taiwan’s President elected in May and the U.S. President-elect who was elected on the eighth of November have exchanged congratulations and noted that other phone calls were received from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, and the Singaporean President Lee Kuan Yew.

Facing the wave of criticism, Trump said on Twitter that Tsai had initiated the call he had with the Taiwan president: “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency, Thank you!”. “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump said in another tweet.

Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, said: “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said “there is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” adding that the U.S. remained firmly committed to the U.S. ‘one China’ policy.

However, the phone call news didn’t make headlines in the Chinese state-run media, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi said that the call was “just a small trick” by Taiwan.

Political officials in Taipei said that China should consider the conversation calmly; the council concerned in Chinese-Taiwanese relations called Beijing to face the new development in Asia and the Pacific and to show cooperation to secure good ties and to dedicate peace, prosperity, and stability in the region.

It is worth noting that these phone calls have breached the U.S. protocol during the administration’s interim stage because they have neglected the Secretary of State’s role.