President-elect Donald Trump is on the defensive over call with Taiwan

 
Rebecca Smith
Trump spoke by phone with President Tsai of Taiwan
Trump spoke by phone with President Tsai of Taiwan (Source: Getty)

Donald Trump has started as he means to go on.

The President-elect did what he always does after raising eyebrows (this time over a phone call with Taiwan): he took to Twitter to defend himself.

Trump had spoken directly with the President of Taiwan - breaking with US policy set back in 1979 when formal relations were cut. And by doing so, has risked upsetting China as it sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and isn't particularly keen on US diplomatic relations with the island.

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In a statement, the Trump transition team described the call in a statement, saying during the talk the leaders "noted the close economic, political and security ties" between the US and Taiwan while Trump also congratulated President Tsai on her election earlier this year.

State media in China reported Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blaming Taiwan for the exchange.

"This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action and cannot change the 'one China' structure already formed by the international community," he said.

And Trump remained typically defiant on Twitter, saying: "Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory phone call."

The dispute between Beijing and Taiwan developed when the losing side of China's 1949 Civil War fled to the island, continuing to declare themselves the rightful rulers of China. Relations have been tense ever since.

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The incoming President recently named retired marine general James "Mad Dog" Mattis as his defence secretary.

Mattis retired as chief of US Central Command in 2013 and has said that responding to "political Islam" is the major security issue the US faces.

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