Donald Trump risks China rift with Taiwan call

  • 03/12/2016
Donald Trump (file)
Donald Trump (file)

China's foreign minister says he hopes Beijing's relations with the US won't be damaged after President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades-long diplomatic tradition and spoke directly with Taiwan's leader.

It is highly unusual, probably unprecedented, for a US president or president-elect to speak directly with a leader of Taiwan, a self-governing island the US broke diplomatic ties with in 1979.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday the call between Taiwan's president and Mr Trump was "just a small trick by Taiwan" that he believed would not change US policy toward China, according to Hong Kong's Phoenix TV.

"The one-China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-US relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged," Mr Wang was quoted as saying.

Washington has pursued a so-called "one China" policy shifting diplomatic recognition of China from the government in Taiwan to the communist government on the mainland. Under that policy, the US recognises Beijing as representing China but retains unofficial ties with Taiwan.

A statement from Mr Trump's transition team said he spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who offered her congratulations.

"During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year," the statement said.

Mr Trump tweeted later: "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!"

The Taiwanese presidential office issued a statement early Saturday saying Mr Trump and Ms Tsai discussed issues affecting Asia and the future of US relations with Taiwan.

"The (Taiwanese) president is looking forward to strengthening bilateral interactions and contacts as well as setting up closer co-operative relations," the statement said.

"The president also told US President-elect Trump that she hopes the US will continue to support Taiwan's efforts in having more opportunities to participate in and contribute to international affairs in the future," Ms Tsai's office said.