Politics

GOP Lawmakers Praise Trump for Taiwan Call

Despite media meltdown, Republicans hail Trump's willingness to engage foreign leaders without fear of China

Despite liberal politicians and the mainstream media entering intense freakout mode following President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Taiwan Friday, several lawmakers lauded Trump for the conversation.

The president-elect caused an uproar Friday when his transition team announced he had spoken with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who had offered him her congratulations. Noting that the two spoke of “the close economic, political, and security ties that exists between Taiwan and the United States,” the team’s statement noted that Trump had also congratulated her an her election victory earlier this year.

“America has always been a champion of democratic values and individual freedoms, and I applaud the President-elect for making a strong statement in support of those values around the world.”

But several lawmakers came to Trump’s defense when soft condemnation came crashing down on him for audaciously speaking with the president of Taiwan — a country China views as a sort of renegade province.

“I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen,” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement Friday, noting that the phone call “reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil.”

“America’s policy toward Taiwan is governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which we maintain close ties with Taiwan and support its democratic system,” Cotton said, adding that he is “confident [President Tsai] expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States.”

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Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement to The Hill that Trump had made a “strong statement” with his historic conversation with Tsai.

“I commend [President-elect] Trump for reaching out to the democratically-elected President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen,” Salmon said. “America has always been a champion of democratic values and individual freedoms, and I applaud the President-elect for making a strong statement in support of those values around the world.”

Salmon was a former missionary to Taiwan and attended Tsai’s inauguration earlier this year.

House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.) told The Hill that he “loved” Trump’s bold move.

“Taiwan is a great friend of America and I see nothing wrong with the president-elect letting the world see that,” Messer said.”I have visited Taiwan twice in recent years … And anyone who has knows that Taiwan is a democratic republic, a great trade partner with America, and a nation that values freedom and the rule of law.”

Messer added, “To me, it’s ironic that some who call Obama enlightened for his outreach to murderous communist thugs in Cuba would now criticize Trump for acknowledging Taiwan,” referring to President Barack Obama’s relatively complimentary and sympathetic statement released after former Cuban president and dictator Fidel Castro died last week.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz echoed Messer’s thoughts in a tweet Saturday morning, saying, “I would much rather have Donald Trump talking to President Tsai than to Cuba’s Raul Castro or Iran’s Hasan Rouhani. This is an improvement.”

Chinese officials did not address the incident directly but issued a statement warning against any U.S. deviation from the notion of “one China.”

“We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States,” Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said a statement Saturday. “I must point out that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory … The ‘one China’ principle is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations. We urge the relevant side in the U.S. to adhere to the ‘one China’ policy, abide by the pledges in the three joint China-U.S. communiques, and handle issues related to Taiwan carefully and properly to avoid causing unnecessary interference to the overall China-U.S. relationship.”

The Obama Administration responded with its own statement looking to soothe any distressed Chinese nerves.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said “there is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” according to CNN.

“We remain firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy based on the three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” Price added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

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North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who serves on the Foreign Affairs panel, told The Hill that “President-elect Trump recognizes that reaching out to every world leader is a critical component of an effective foreign policy.”

“It’s not policy, it’s a phone call,” Meadows said.

Taiwanese officials also downplayed any negativity associated with Trump’s phone call.

“Maintaining good relations with the United States is as important as maintaining good relations across the Taiwan Strait,” Taiwanese presidential spokesman Alex Huang said, according to NBC News.

Huang added that both relationships are “in line with Taiwan’s national interest” and noted that the phone call had been prearranged.

For his own part, Trump sought to offer some clarity.

“The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” Trump tweeted Friday. “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

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