Have you ever seen anything as ridiculous as the media’s overreaction to Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen? When news broke that Trump spoke with Tsai on Friday, you would have thought we were on the brink of nuclear war with China. My God, they said. Can you believe this?! Trump doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing! Or he does, and that’s even worse! We’re all gonna die!
Two days later, the world’s still spinning. Everything’s fine.
Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News Sunday to downplay the communication, insisting that the president-elect is fully briefed and informed on matters of international diplomacy.
“It’s just a phone call,” Conway said. “President-elect Trump is not out there making policy or policy prescriptions.
“I know that China has a perspective on this,” she continued. “The White House and State Department probably have a perspective on it, and certainly Taiwan has a perspective on it. But the president-elect’s perspective is that he accepted a congratulatory call. And when he’s sworn in as president and commander in chief in a little over a month, he will make clear what the fullness of his plans are.”
Critics have blasted Trump for taking the call, worried sick about what it might mean for diplomatic relations with China. As far as official U.S. diplomatic policy goes, Taiwan doesn’t exist as a separate country. That’s the way Beijing wants it to stay. The communist dictatorship that runs the mainland doesn’t want the world to acknowledge the thriving democracy just across the strait, and the U.S. has enabled this ridiculous charade since 1979.
That’s not to say Trump’s phone call isn’t news. That’s not to say the media shouldn’t be asking questions. If Trump is going to break with nearly 40 years of U.S. protocol, the American public certainly deserves to know why.
At the same time, there’s nothing to indicate that Trump is plotting any such break. He took a congratulatory phone call from the democratically-elected president of a country that the U.S. does billions of dollars in business with – that’s all. He essentially shrugged and said, “You know what, to hell with your silly little games. I’m taking the call.” The Chicken Littles in the foreign policy establishment are trying to make us believe that China is so eager to confront the U.S. that they’ll start dropping bombs over a phone call. Is anyone seriously buying it?
And frankly, if that’s all it takes, then we need to seriously re-evaluate our relationship with Beijing.