BEIJING — China lodged a diplomatic protest yesterday after United States president-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, but blamed the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own for the “petty” move.
The 10-minute telephone call with Taiwan’s leadership was the first by a US president-elect or president since president Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China”.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged “stern representations” with what it called the “relevant US side”, urging the careful handling of the Taiwan issue to avoid any unnecessary disturbances in ties.
“The one China principle is the political basis of the China-US relationship,” it said.
The wording implied the protest had gone to the Trump camp, but the ministry provided no explanation.
Speaking earlier, hours after Friday’s telephone call, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointedly blamed Taiwan for the exchange, rather than Trump, a billionaire businessman with little foreign policy experience.
“This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action, and cannot change the ‘one China’ structure already formed by the international community,” Wang said at an academic forum in Beijing, state media reported.
“I believe that it won’t change the longstanding ‘one China’ policy of the US government.”
Trump said on Twitter that Tsai had initiated the call he had with the Taiwan president.
“The president of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” he said.
Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, said: “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”
Washington remains Taiwan’s most important political ally and sole arms supplier, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the irony of which was not lost on Trump.
“Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump said in another tweet.
Earlier this week, Trump spoke to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and praised him, according to the Pakistani leader’s office, as a “terrific guy”.
Islamabad and Washington have seen relations sour in recent years over US accusations that Pakistan shelters Islamist militants who kill US soldiers in Afghanistan, a charge denied by the South Asian nation.