Pence: Taiwan president’s call to Trump was just ‘courtesy’

Washington, Dec 5 (IANS) U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence said that the controversial telephone call between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and President-elect Donald Trump last week was just a “courtesy call”, media reports said.

Trump’s chat with Tsai, the first bilateral contact at the presidential level since Washington broke relations with Taipei in 1979, was nothing more than a “courtesy”, Efe news agency quoted Pence as saying on an the ABC news program.

“I think I would just say to our counterparts in China that this was a moment of courtesy. The President-elect talked to President Xi (Jinping) two weeks ago in the same manner that was not a discussion about policy,” Pence said.

With those remarks, Pence compared the chat between Trump and Tsai with the contacts that President Barack Obama has maintained with Cuban President Raul Castro as part of process of normalizing bilateral relations.

The Indiana governor said that just like other world leaders, the Taiwanese president called Trump to offer congratulations for his election win.

The call by the Taiwanese president broke with almost four decades of sensitive U.S. foreign policy with China and forced the White House to come out and reiterate that the only Chinese government Washington has recognized since 1979 is the one in Beijing.

Foreign policy experts say that the call could alter relations between the Washington and Beijing, given that the China considers the island of Taiwan to be a “rebel” province and part of its sovereign territory.