No major changes to US policy ‘at this point,’ says ex-Cheney adviser

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A visiting former White House official said Tuesday that there is no reason for Taiwan to anticipate any major changes in U.S. policy following Friday’s historic phone call between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen.

Stephen Yates, who served as deputy national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration, said he was “thrilled” that Trump had agreed to receive Tsai’s congratulatory phone call. “It is wonderful to have a president-elect of the United States of America who is willing to speak in clear, simple and sincere terms about his respect for democratic leaders and all people who seek good relations with the U.S.,” Yates said. Stressing that the recent phone call was “an important step in the direction many of us have long advocated,” Yates, however, also noted that, as important as it was, “it remains a small step.” “While it is reasonable for the people of Taiwan to expect friendly relations from the incoming administration, it would not be reasonable to anticipate major changes in U.S. policy at this point,” he said. “Let’s allow the new administration to get beyond the inauguration and formation of its new policy team,” he added. Yates also denied media speculation that he had helped to arrange Friday’s historic phone call, saying that the call itself was set up by the members of Trump’s transition team. Yates made the comments during a press event in Taipei on Tuesday afternoon. He arrived in Taiwan earlier Tuesday to engage in discussion with leaders, in an effort to better understand developments in the region. Yates’ visit has garnered significant media attention, as it is the first by a former Republican administration official since Tsai called Trump last Friday. Yates said he has no affiliation with the Trump team and that, to date, he had not been offered a position in the new administration. ‘No one can tell Trump who he can talk to’ The phone call was the first interaction of its kind since the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. The phone call caused concern among some in the U.S, with critics saying Trump had broken diplomatic convention and risked upsetting U.S.-China relations.

Yates contended that, until inauguration day, Trump is a private citizen. “No one is going to tell him who he can talk to and how he can talk to them,” he said. In response to China’s protest, he said the phone call is just a small step and there is no need to overact.