Back on December 2, Donald Trump accepted a phone call from the president of Taiwan. It was the first such call since the dark days of the Carter regime.
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
To listen to the State Department and the White House one would think a meteor striking earth was imminent. State whined that he wasn’t briefed:
According to State Department officials, the president-elect was not briefed by the agency ahead of his call to the Philippines president nor before any of his calls to world leaders since his election.
The White House nearly apologized, though they may be excused because apologizing to various totalitarians is something they do reflexively:
The White House said on Monday it had sought to reassure China after President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s leader last week, which the Obama administration warned could undermine progress in relations with Beijing.
The statement from a spokesman for U.S. President Barack Obama highlighted concerns about the potential fallout from Trump’s unusual call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, which prompted a diplomatic protest from Beijing on Saturday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said senior National Security Council officials spoke twice with Chinese officials over the weekend to reassure them of Washington’s commitment to the “One China” policy and to “reiterate and clarify the continued commitment of the United States to our longstanding China policy.”
As it turns out, Trump’s approach to China is getting favorable reviews by people who don’t even like Trump.
Donald Trump has alarmed the Republican foreign policy establishment on a range of issues, from his call for friendlier relations with Russia to his hands-off view of the Middle East.
But when it comes to taking a harder line on China, Trump is preaching to the conservative choir.
Asia experts in both parties say that Trump’s tough-on-China stance—including his precedent-breaking phone call with Taiwan’s president on Friday—dovetails with a boiling conservative desire to reframe the U.S.-China strategic relationship after eight years of Democratic rule.
While Trump’s early overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin have drawn warning shots from senior Republicans like Sen. John McCain, most national security conservatives cheered Trump’s Taiwanese overture, and support his broader call for a more confrontational approach to China.
China “is an area where Trump is in line with GOP thinking, and I would argue mainstream thinking,” said one Senate foreign policy aide, talking on background because he is not a designated spokesman for his boss.
Last night on CNN, John McCain was even more supportive:
TAPPER: Do you have any concern at all, Senator, about the phone call that President-elect Trump took from the president of Taiwan, about some of the things he’s said on Twitter and elsewhere about changing U.S. policy towards China, or do you think it is a healthy shakeup of U.S. posture towards that country?
MCCAIN: I think it’s healthy. When you look again at the Chinese behavior that I just chronicled, they’re an independent nation and — Taiwan — and I believe in the One China Policy, but they are a democracy which China is not, and I believe that a conversation with the president of a freely elected democratic Taiwan is more than appropriate.
This is what China needs to hear. And Trump may be the right guy to carry the message to them.