ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos interviewed Vice President-elect Pence and the host went after him about Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwan.
Ever since 1979. when America recognized the “One China” policy, we have refused to talk directly to them. As you know, China hates Taiwan, and considers it a province.
“Let’s get right to China, that call with the leader of Taiwan,” Stephanopoulos started off the interview. “As far as we know, no president or president-elect has spoken with Taiwan’s leader in nearly four decades.”
“Why did Mr. Trump choose to break that precedent?” Stephanopoulos demanded.
“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Pence said, “from the morning after the election we’ve seen the president-elect engaging the world. He’s spoken to more than 50 world leaders. I’ve spoken to several dozen myself. And he received a courtesy call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan to congratulate him.”
He went on to ask Pence about China’s unfriendly reaction to the call.
“Did he intend to send the kind of signal it sent?” Stephanopoulos asked. “Because the Chinese government has already complained about this. How did you guys respond to that?”
“Well, I understand some of the controversy in the media about this, but I –” said Pence.
Stephanopoulos interrupted Pence to say that it wasn’t just the media, but Chinese government.
“Well, yes, of course,” said Pence. “But I would tell you that I think the American people find it very refreshing, the energy that our president-elect is bringing to this whole transition.”
Adding, “He’s not only bringing together a Cabinet at a historic pace for the last 40 years, he’s not only assembling a legislative agenda to move forward this country at home and abroad, but he’s also been engaging the world.”
“I think the American people are encouraged … to see that President-elect Trump is taking calls from the world, speaking to the world. They know he’s going to be out there advancing America’s interests first with that broad-shouldered leadership that’s characterized his entire life,” Pence said.
“Well, we’ll deal with policy after Jan. 20,” Pence added. “This was a courtesy call.”
Pence then called out the friendship between Obama and the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“It’s a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it, and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically elected leader in Taiwan and it’s become something of a controversy,” he said.
As Western Journalism reports, some believe that this call was a message to China.
“It wasn’t a blunder by an inexperienced president-elect unschooled in the niceties of cross-straits diplomacy. It was a deliberate move — and a brilliant one at that,” said Marc A. Thiessen for The Washington Post.
“Trump knew precisely what he was doing in taking the call,” he wrote. “He was serving notice on Beijing that it is dealing with a different kind of president — an outsider who will not be encumbered by the same Lilliputian diplomatic threads that tied down previous administrations. The message, as John Bolton correctly put it, was that ‘the president of the United States [will] talk to whomever he wants if he thinks it’s in the interest of the United States, and nobody in Beijing gets to dictate who we talk to.’”