President-elect Donald Trump has not ruled out meeting with Taiwan’s president if she visits the United States after he is sworn into office January 20.
Trump said Saturday at a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago estate that a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen would be “a little bit inappropriate, from a protocol standpoint, but we’ll see.”
He was roundly criticized for a phone conversation he had with Taiwan’s president after he won the presidential election in November.
No U.S. president or president-elect has had such contact with a Taiwanese leader since Washington broke ties with Taiwan in 1979 and switched to the larger, fast-growing China. But the U.S. has remained a staunch informal supporter of Taiwan since then.
In the 1979 U.S.-China Joint Communique, the U.S. recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
Chinese state media said that Trump’s “inexperience” led him to accept the call from the Taiwanese president but warned that breaching the one-China policy would “destroy” relations between Washington and Beijing.
Trump seemed bemused by the reaction to the call, saying on his Twitter account, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
Over China’s objections, U.S. President Barack Obama a year ago authorized a $1.83 billion sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, including two frigates, amphibious assault vehicles, and anti-aircraft and anti-ship systems.