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Donald Trump just ‘absolutely incensed’ China with one phone call.

Donald Trump’s recent call with the president of Taiwan may be seen by China — a global economic and military superpower — as a form of antagonism.

In a public statement, Trump’s transition team confirmed the President-elect’s phone call with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, saying the two spoke about potential economic and national security partnerships.

“During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming president of Taiwan earlier this year,” the statement read.

The White House rushed to assure China that its relationship wasn’t changing. Ned Price, who is the Obama administration’s spokesman for the National Security Council, said the United States was firmly committed to its “One China” policy.

“Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations,” Price stated.

As BBC tweeted, Trump’s call with Ing-wen breaks almost 40 years of US precedent, as the United States hasn’t had relations with Taiwan since Jimmy Carter was president.

Ing-wen won the Taiwanese election earlier this year, promising a hawkish relationship with China. However, Ing-wen’s popularity is already waning, according to the LA Times, with over 100,000 people protesting outside her office in the midst of a poor economic climate.

Fortune reported that Trump’s call with Ing-wen may be at least tangentially related to ongoing real estate interests the Trump Organization has in the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. The Taiwan News reported that Eric Trump will be making a trip to Taiwan in 2017 to talk to city officials about the development project:

A woman working for the Trump Organization came to Taoyuan in September, declaring the company’s investment interest in Taiwan’s Taoyuan Aerotropolis, a large urban planning development project surrounding the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

However, given the megaproject plan is still under review, the meeting was merely a form of gesture, the mayor said, according to media reports.

Reports also said the meeting suggested that Eric Trump, the son of the President-elect, will come to Taiwan personally to see about the potential business opportunity by the end of the year.

While the President-elect said earlier this week he plans to remove himself from his businesses before his inauguration, it remains unclear how he’ll be completely removed from conflicts of interest if he indeed plans to hand his business over to his adult children.

According to NYU professor and geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, President-elect Trump’s call with Taiwan’s president is almost certain to mar the early days of the Trump presidency with an unnecessary and potentially costly rift with China. Bremmer also asually remarked that the President-elect may now rethink his decision to not attend the multiple national security briefings that have been held since the election.

As of this writing, China has not yet responded to Trump’s call with Ing-wen.


Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or friend him on Facebook.

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