Despite widespread fallout from President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s president on Friday, some Republican leaders are applauding Trump.
“I commend [President-elect] Trump for reaching out to the democratically-elected President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen,” Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon said in a statement to The Hill on Friday.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows downplayed concerns about how Trump’s move could affect US-China relations.
“President-elect Trump recognises that reaching out to every world leader is a critical component of an effective foreign policy,” Meadows said. “It’s not policy, it’s a phone call.”
Meadows’ sentiment runs counter to Trump’s own “America first” rhetoric that he adopted as a presidential candidate.
House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer seemed to imply that Trump was indeed taking steps toward formulating new policies, equating the president-elect’s Taiwan phone call with President Barack Obama’s efforts to rebuilt diplomatic relations with Cuba.
“To me, it’s ironic that some who call Obama enlightened for his outreach to murderous communist thugs in Cuba would now criticise Trump for acknowledging Taiwan,” Messer said.
New York Rep. Pete King appeared to echo that sentiment on Twitter: “Plaudits to President-elect Trump for his historic phone call to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Strong message to China. New day in Asia.”
The phone call was widely expected to potentially complicate the US’s already tense relationship with China.
In a couple of Friday night tweets, Trump defended the congratulatory conversation with Taiwan.
“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” he wrote.
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