Donald Trump

‘Beijing should not overreact’ to Trump-Tsai phone call, says US president-elect adviser as he visits Taiwan

Stephen Yates, a US transition adviser and Taiwan affairs expert, speaks at start of Taipei trip

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2016, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 11:50pm

A transition adviser to US President-elect Donald Trump says Beijing should not overreact to last week’s unprecedented telephone call between Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Stephen Yates a Taiwan affairs expert, was speaking upon arrival in Taipei on Tuesday.

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His trip to Taiwan came as a local newspaper reported that Tsai would stop over in New York in January and possibly meet Trump’s aides.

When questioned by reporters at Taoyuan airport on Tuesday morning, Yates said it was the first time he had heard about Tsai’s intended trip.

He also said he was glad about the phone call between Tsai and Trump – the first to involve a sitting or elected US president and a Taiwanese leader since Washington switched its formal diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 – but denied he had been involved in arranging it.

Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-Wen initiated phone call with Donald Trump, says island’s presidential spokesman

Beijing protested to Washington about the call while Foreign Minister Wang Yi last weekend described the call as nothing more than “a petty trick” by Taipei.

Yates said. “[The phone call] is a small step and they [Beijing] should not overreact.

“We still need to wait after the inauguration [of the new US president] and see what Trump’s policies will be.”

He did not reveal whether he would be meeting Tsai during his visit to the island, which ends on Sunday.

The Taiwanese newspaper, The Liberty Times, reported on Monday that Tsai was preparing a trip to three Latin American and Caribbean nations which still have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.

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The report said during Tsai’s stopover in New York, she might also meet Trump’s aides, although it was unlikely that she would meet Trump himself.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that Tsai might appoint the island’s former premier Yu Shyi-kun as Taipei’s envoy to attend Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the Tsai-Trump call was a product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations that had begun even before Trump became the Republican Presidential nominee.

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Yates said in a co-authored article, published on the Fox News website on Sunday, that Trump was right to have talked with the Taiwanese president.

“The call between Trump and Tsai was not necessarily a change in broader policy ... the fact that a simple courtesy call caused so much trepidation and genuflections to past protocol just shows how absurd US-China policy has become,” Yates wrote.