- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2016

Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Sunday defended Donald Trump’s conversation with the president of Taiwan, calling it “mystifying” that those outraged over the “courtesy call” had no problem with the Obama administration’s outreach to Cuba.

“It’s a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba … 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,” Mr. Pence said on ABC’s “This Week.”

He said Friday’s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was one of about 50 conversations that have taken place between Mr. Trump and world leaders since the election.

“I think the American people appreciate the fact that our president-elect is taking calls from and reaching out to the world, and preparing on Day One to lead America on the world stage,” Mr. Pence added.

The phone call is believed to be the first in 40 years involving a president-elect in the wake of the 1979 “One China” policy, in which the U.S. government has recognized China as the sole legal government of the Chinese people and cut off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its territory.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it lodged a complaint Saturday over the breach of protocol, calling the One China policy “the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”

“We urge the relevant side in the US to adhere to the ‘one China’ policy, abide by the pledges in the three joint China-U.S. communiques, and handle issues related to Taiwan carefully and properly to avoid causing unnecessary interference to the overall China-U.S. relationship,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

In response, Mr. Pence said: “I think I would just say to our counterparts in China that this was a moment of courtesy.”

“I think most Americans and frankly most leaders around the world know this for what it was. And it’s all part and parcel. I think you’re going to see in a President Donald Trump a willingness to engage the world but engage the world on America’s terms,” Mr. Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Trump emphasized later on Twitter that the call was initiated by Taiwan and took a jab at his critics.

“Interesting how U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Mr. Trump said in a Friday tweet.

President Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, which had been severed in 1961 following the communist revolution.

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