President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was to have a telephone conversation with US president-elect Donald Trump yesterday, which would be the first time a Taiwanese president has spoken with a US president-elect since official diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed in 1979.
According to sources in Washington, Tsai was to congratulate Trump on his election win and to reiterate that Taiwan would continue to maintain a steady relationship with the US, as well as to express hopes for expanded Taiwan-US collaborations on the economy, politics and regional security.
Trump has triggered a sense of uncertainty over US policies regarding its stance in the Asia-Pacific region, saying after his election victory that Washington would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and asking US allies to increase their spending on defense.
During his election campaign, he also accused Taiwanese firms of stealing US job opportunities.
Trump reportedly agreed to the call, which was arranged by Taiwan-friendly members of his campaign staff after his aides briefed him on issues regarding Taiwan and the situation in the Taiwan Strait, sources said.
Since being elected, Trump has spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
International relations experts said that a communication channel was lacking between Taiwan and the US, and that bilateral communications had to be carried out through the American Institute in Taiwan, the US Department of State and the US National Security Council, which they said at times gave rise to poor communications like the friction between former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration and that of then-US president George W. Bush.
If the telephone conversation between Tsai and Trump could prompt the establishment of a direct communications channel between the two sides, misunderstandings would be reduced, thereby benefiting the relationship, experts said.
In related news, Stephen Yates, who was deputy security advisor to former US vice president Dick Cheney, is scheduled to visit Taiwan from Tuesday to Sunday next week.
He is to meet with Tsai, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) and National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).
Yates was in charge of drafting this year’s Republican Party platform and is good friends with Reince Priebus, who was recently appointed Trump’s White House chief of staff.
Washington sources said that Yates is to be appointed to a position in the White House after Trump’s inauguration.