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Opposition parties positive about Tsai-Trump call

2016/12/03 16:30:19

Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) Taiwan's opposition parties on Saturday responded positively to a phone conversation between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, the first publicly reported call between a U.S. president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader, since 1979.

"The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!" tweeted Trump.

The conversation, which lasted for a little over 10 minutes, was held at 11 p.m. on Friday Taipei time (10 a.m. Friday EST), according to the Presidential Office.

Issues addressed included economic development and strengthening national defense. President Tsai also said she hoped the United States would support Taiwan's efforts to participate more extensively on international issues, the Presidential Office said.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said it viewed the call positively.

"The KMT welcomes the call and appreciates the United States' support of Taiwan," said Hu Wen-chi (胡文琦), deputy director of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee.

Hu said the KMT is happy to see the government continue the "zero incident" diplomacy of the previous KMT administration and develop policies beneficial to the people of Taiwan under that framework.

Hu urged President Tsai to make clear to the public the direction of Taiwan-U.S. relations after the Trump administration assumes office next year, particularly in the areas of trade policy and future military cooperation and exchange.

He also called on national security authorities to correctly analyze the first official exchange with the U.S. since 1979 to determine whether it represents a turnaround in U.S. policy or was just a courtesy call.

He reminded the DPP that any diplomatic policy must take into consideration political balance in the region and not just the pursuit of fleeting diplomatic breakthroughs.

Tang Te-ming (唐德明), another committee deputy director, said he hopes the Tsai administration will strive to establish a more positive relationship with the United States.

Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), a party whip from the People First Party, said the call was the first since Taiwan and the United States severed diplomatic ties in 1979.

He said that although Trump's policy toward Taiwan, Asia and the world is unclear, the call between the two leaders has symbolic meaning and he hoped for improvements in bilateral relations.

Lee said that leaders in Taiwan and China should put aside animosity and engage in further dialogue.

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), convener of the New Power Party, noted that Trump first said Tsai offered congratulations, but later tweeted: "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call," indicating that he is under pressure from China in the wake of the call.

Former Foreign Minister Cheng Chien-jen (程建人) said the phone conversation indicates Trump's goodwill toward Taiwan.

Cheng said that in the past, Taiwan often congratulated the U.S. president-elect in private or in writing.

The call indicates that Trump and his team are basically friendly toward Taiwan and that such ties could continue if handled properly he said, adding that Trump has adopted an approach unfamiliar to the U.S, with a singular focus on U.S. interests.

However, a U.S. president has to handle global issues, and how much flexibility Trump will have on Taiwan after assuming office remains to be seen.

According to a press release issued by the Trump transition team, the president-elect "spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, who offered her congratulations."

"During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties that exist between Taiwan and the United States," according to the press release.

"President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year," it said without giving other details about the conversation.

Tsai was among four "world leaders" that Trump spoke with during the day, according to the press release. The other three, all from Asia, were President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Philippines and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Lilian wu)
Enditme/AW