Trump’s Taiwan phone call was long planned, say people who were involved

The historic communication — the first between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 — was the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump’s advisers about a new strategy for engagement with Taiwan that began even before he became the Republican presidential nominee, according to people involved in or briefed on the talks.

.. Several leading members of Trump’s transition team are considered hawkish on China and friendly toward Taiwan, including incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.

.. In an article for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific,” Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray described Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in Asia” and complained that its treatment by the Obama administration was “egregious.”

The article, flagged to China experts as a significant policy blueprint, described Taiwan as “the most militarily vulnerable U.S. partner anywhere in the world” and called for a comprehensive arms deal to help it defend itself against China.

.. Priebus is reported to have visited Taiwan with a Republican delegation in 2011 and in October 2015, meeting Tsai before she was elected president. Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee called him a friend of Taiwan

.. Edward J. Feulner, a longtime former president of the Heritage Foundation, has for decades cultivated extensive ties with Taiwan and is serving as an adviser to Trump’s transition team.

.. At the Republican National Convention in July, Trump’s allies inserted a little-noticed phrase into the party’s platform reaffirming support for six key assurances to Taiwan made by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 — a priority for the Taiwan government. Also written into the 2016 platform was tougher language about China than had been in the party’s platform in its previous iteration four years ago.

.. Trump accused China of “raping” the United States by stealing trade secrets, manipulating its currency and subsidizing its industries.

.. “Calls like this may upset the diplomats, but they communicate to Americans that he’s not going to play by the same rules and isn’t just talking differently but will act differently.”

.. the call with Tsai “was deliberate. It was not an accident. Obviously he made a conscious decision to have the call arranged. She called him, but there was an agreement for it.”

.. “It doesn’t make sense that Tsai out of the blue would call Donald Trump. She is not known for taking big leaps into the unknown, and it would be politically embarrassing when it was learned that she called Trump and he would not take her call.”

When his events grow “a little boring,” the real-estate mogul told The New York Times’ editorial board, “I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” According to a Pew Research Center poll this spring, the wall divides pro-Trump from anti-Trump Republicans more sharply than any other issue.