President-elect Donald Trump's controversial phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2 has been portrayed by the Trump team as a casual congratulatory call.
After news broke about the protocol-breaking call, Trump defended himself on Twitter: "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!"
China's foreign ministry filed a complaint on Dec. 3 with the Obama administration over Trump's call, which broke the U.S. policy of recognizing Taiwan as part of China -- the "one China" policy -- since 1979, noted CNN.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to the phone call as "a shenanigan by the Taiwan side," but The Washington Post reports that the call was long planned, per sources connected to the Trump team.
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"Very early on, Taiwan was on that [call] list," Stephen Yates, a national security official for ex-President George W. Bush, told the newspaper. "Once the call was scheduled, I was told that there was a briefing for President-elect Trump. They knew that there would be reaction and potential blowback."
There was blowback, and Trump defiantly tweeted on Dec. 4:
Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!
The Washington Post notes that the U.S. does tax Chinese imports at 2.9 percent (non-farm products) and 2.5 percent (farm products).
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Yates told the newspaper that he helped write this part of the GOP platform for the August convention:
We salute the people of Taiwan, with whom we share the values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy, and the rule of law ... China’s behavior has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with China.
Alex Huang, a spokesman for the Taiwan president, told Reuters that the phone call with Trump was planned: "Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact."
According to Tsai’s team, she told Trump on the phone that she hoped the U.S. "would continue to support more opportunities for Taiwan to participate in international issues."
"Of course all head-of-state calls are well planned," Richard Grenell, an advisor to the Trump transition team, told The Washington Post.
"There are a lot of things that previous Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents, would do that Donald Trump won’t do," Grenell added. "He’s a man that understands that typical Washington rules are not always best for our foreign policy."
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, said on Dec. 4: "All he did was receive a phone call. Everybody should just calm down. He’s aware of what our nation’s policy is."