Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday provided a glimpse into the mindset of US president-elect Donald Trump when he took a telephone call from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in December 2016.
The US media could not believe that Trump had won the 2016 election, and they were not excited to see him win, Sanders told a luncheon meeting at the two-day Yushan Forum at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, which began yesterday
“And they were very unhappy when one of the very first things he did as president-elect was to take a phone call from the president of Taiwan,” Sanders said, adding that the call sent the media into a frenzy.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“The president, of course, knew that we had a relationship with Taiwan, and he didn’t see what all the fuss was about, and he didn’t care,” said Sanders, who served as press secretary from July 2017 to July this year and was known for her often contentious relationship with the media.
Sanders was commenting on the conversation between Tsai and Trump on Dec. 2, 2016, when Trump took a congratulatory call from Tsai, the first publicly reported call between a Taiwanese leader and a US president or president-elect since 1979, when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
The call infuriated Beijing, but was celebrated as a diplomatic achievement by the Tsai administration.
Sanders also said that while Trump has taken a hard line against China, he has worked hard to strengthen US relations with allies in Asia since taking office.
Trump takes great pride in his relations with leaders around the world, she said.
Later, answering reporters’ questions about Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections in January, Sanders said she believes Trump would hope to have a great relationship with whoever Taiwanese elect to be their leader.
However, she repeated several times that she was speaking in a personal capacity, because she is no longer with the White House.
The forum was organized by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation with the support of the government to facilitate Asian regional dialogue.
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