If we all believed that this was a deliberate move by Trump to signal a different policy towards China and Taiwan, that would be one thing. One might even admire it . . . with some trepidation. After all, Taiwan should have a right to its independence, right? The U.S. should respect that and recognize that, right?
But instead, I can’t shake the feeling that Trump just didn’t bother to read his briefing books and had no idea of the significance of what he was doing:
President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwan’s President Friday, threatening to ignite a diplomatic showdown with China even before he takes office.
“President-elect Trump spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, who offered her congratulations,” Trump’s transition team said in a statement. “During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year.”
Trump’s conversation marks the first publicly reported call between a US President or President-elect and the leader of Taiwan since Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The telephone call is certain to incense China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province. It is the first major sign of the unpredictability that Trump has vowed to bring to long-held US relations with the rest of the world.
The call, first reported by the Financial Times, risks throwing US-China relations into a tailspin before Trump takes the oath of office on January 20. China’s state-run CCTV quickly issued a statement saying Trump made “an unprecedented break with the One-China Policy and accepted US-Mainland protocol.”
Trump is claiming on Twitter that the President of Taiwan called him. Taiwan is saying: no, Trump arranged the call. Asked by Anderson Cooper whether Trump was reading his briefing books, Kellyanne Conway replied that Trump “has access” to them. When specifically asked by Cooper whether he is actually using them, Conway responded that of course he is.
She lies so effortlessly. She’ll make a . . . very standard press secretary.
Again: an argument could be made for changing the policy. I wish I were certain it wasn’t an accident.
But I’m not.
When you elect someone who doesn’t read, that kind of uncertainly is what you get, America.