Parsing the Significance of the Tsai-Trump Call

So what does this portend for U.S.-Taiwan-China relations under the Trump administration?

The News Lens
Date: 2016/12/04
By: Courtney Donovan Smith (石東文)

The news that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump took a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(蔡英文) – breaking over 40 years of precedent of no direct contact – exploded across the internet here in Taiwan and around the world with seemingly everyone having something to say about it. The international news media went into a tizzy speculating on China’s reaction, frequently repeating the standard Chinese propaganda line on Taiwan in the process (an excellent analysis here). Many on the American left are already hand-wringing at this 10-minute conversation, calling it “risky” and “provocative.” in spite of praising Obama for breaking previous diplomatic precedent in Cuba. Some supporters of Taiwan, however, are ecstatic, calling the call a “major breakthrough” in U.S.-Taiwan relations, but others openly questioned Trump’s abilities: “More likely is that he doesn’t fully understand cross-Strait relations, and is completely, bumblingly, unaware of what he’s just done.” So what does this portend for U.S.-Taiwan-China relations under the Trump administration?

Starting with Trump, anyone who thinks they understand what he is up to is delusional, other than he’s up to his old tricks. The only thing for certain is that Trump is following his standard practice of doing what people don’t expect him to. He did this masterfully during the election campaign, repeatedly breaking convention and launching asymmetrical attacks to destabilize and confuse his opponents. He’s continued to do it since. Trump, unlike what some think, is a very crafty opponent.    [FULL  STORY]

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