President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with Taiwan's president has, we're told, thrown experienced foreign affairs "experts" into a tizzy. It's a violation of "protocol" and it will upset China, which says it has a right to gobble up Taiwan.
Not that the people in Taiwan have anything to say about it. What China wants, China should get.
TAIPEI—Donald Trump took the call. The voice on the other end of the line was Taiwan’s president congratulating him. They chatted for a few minutes about economic matters and security—the normal business of politics. Why all the fuss?
After all, China didn’t object too strenuously, directing its displeasure primarily toward Taiwan for what it called a “petty trick.” That’s far from the explosion Beijing’s past behavior may have indicated for such a breach of protocol: No president-elect, or president, has spoken to a Taiwan leader since Washington cut formal diplomatic ties with Taipei and recognized the People’s Republic in 1979.
A policy reset is long overdue, both in Beijing, which needs to come up with an approach to Taiwan that accommodates the reality that it is a flourishing democracy—with no desire to come under Beijing’s authoritarian sway—and in Washington.
There’s a world of difference, however, between causing gratuitous offense to Beijing and building on a longstanding friendship with Taiwan. As president, Mr. Trump will have to distinguish with utmost care. Clumsiness could trigger more than a diplomatic rebuke from Beijing. It could mean a choice between peace and conflict.
Read why Americans need to learn about the nation's most ignored war.
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