US officials, including senior officials at the National Security Council, have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to reiterate the US’ continued commitment to a one-China policy, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.
Earnest made the comment in a press briefing in response to a question regarding news that US President-Elect Donald Trump held a telephone conversation with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. That telephone call was immediately protested by China.
Earnest noted that the one-China policy is based on three joint US-China communiques that were negotiated by different US Presidents in different parties and, by the Taiwan Relations Act.
“This is a policy that has been in place for nearly 40 years, and it has been focused on promoting and preserving peace and stability in the strait,” Earnest said. “The adherence to and commitment to this policy has advanced the ability of the United States to make progress in our relationship with China and, of course, has benefited the people of Taiwan. Taiwan, after all, is the ninth-largest trading partner of the United States, and they certainly benefit from peace and stability in the strait. And pursuit of and commitment to that peace and stability advances U.S. interests.”
Earnest added, that “If the President-elect’s team has a different aim, I’ll leave it to them to describe.”
“I think it’s hard to determine exactly what the aim was of the President-elect. I know both the Vice President-elect and his campaign manager were — when asked about this over the weekend, indicated that these were courtesy calls — or that this was a courtesy call and the President-elect was merely returning that call,” Earnest said, adding, “The Washington Post today tells a different story, with some Trump aides indicating that this was a long-planned call and that this is part of a broader strategic effort.”
“It’s unclear exactly what the strategic effort is, what the aim of the strategic effort is, and it’s unclear exactly what potential benefit could be experienced by the United States, China or Taiwan. But I’ll leave that to them to explain,” Earnest said.