China has lodged an official diplomatic protest after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Taiwan’s president, breaking four decades of U.S diplomatic policy.
Beijing said on December 3 that it was urging Washington to maintain its one-China policy and avoid disruptions in bilateral relations.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted by Chinese media as saying the phone call was “just a small trick by Taiwan,” adding he did not believe it signaled a change in U.S. policy.
“The one-China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged,” Wang said.
A statement from Trump's transition team on December 2 said the Taiwanese leader, Tsai Ing-wen, offered her congratulations to Trump on his election.
The two noted that "close economic, political, and security ties exist between Taiwan and the United States," the statement said.
Trump later posted a message to Twitter in which he said the Taiwanese leader was the one who called him.
"The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!" he wrote.
Officials at the White House reacted quickly to news of the telephone conversation, suggesting concern for the relationship between Washington and Beijing.
"There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues," Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in an e-mail to RFE/RL.
"We remain firmly committed to our one-China policy," he said. "Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations."
News reports said the White House did not learn of the phone call until after it occurred.
It was the first direct contact between U.S. and Taiwanese leaders since diplomatic ties were severed in 1979 and Washington formally established relations with China.
The United States has tread lightly with Taiwan since then, trying to balance relations with China while also not discouraging Taiwan's independent-minded democratic system.
The call is the latest by Trump to break diplomatic protocol.
Trump's apparent fulsome praise for Pakistan's leader, in a phone call earlier this week, worried South Asia observers, who feared it would alienate India.