Trump’s talk with President Tsai ‘just a courtesy call,’ says Pence


WASHINGTON — United States Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and a senior aide to President-elect Donald Trump both said Sunday that Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last week was just a courtesy call and did not signal any plans to change U.S. foreign policy.

In a break with decades of diplomatic precedent, Trump took a congratulatory call from Tsai on Dec. 2, the first publicly reported call between a Taiwanese leader and a U.S. president or president-elect since 1979.

The 10-minute phone conversation sparked speculation that when Trump takes office as president, his administration would break with the U.S.’ current “one-China” policy.

Under that policy, which was adopted in 1979 after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as representing China but retains unofficial ties with Taiwan.

In an interview on NBC’s popular news talk show Meet the Press Sunday, Pence said Tsai’s call to Trump was just a “courtesy.”

“She reached out to the President-elect and he took the call from the democratically elected leader of Taiwan,” Pence said, adding that the call was one of more than 50 that Trump has had with world leaders since the Nov. 8 election.

“And so it’s all a reflection of the tremendous energy and it’s the kind of approach that you’re going to see him bring to challenges at home and abroad,” Pence said.

Not an Intentional challenge to China: Pence

In response to a question by the talk show host, Pence said the call did not represent an intentional challenge to the foreign policy establishment or to the U.S.-Chinese diplomatic establishment.

Nothing should be read into it, Pence added.

He said Trump had also talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in the same manner about two weeks earlier and that was not a discussion about policy either.

After Trump’s inauguration in January, his team will deal with policy and will plan how to advance his agenda on the world stage, Pence said.

He said the tumult over Tsai’s call to Trump was “tempest in a teapot” and there were no plans to try to placate China.

“I think I would just say to our counterparts in China that this was a moment of courtesy,” Pence said.