Trump tweets about phone conversation with Taiwanese leader but not Singapore's

Picture credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

America’s President-Elect Donald Trump yesterday (1 Dec) tweeted about the phone call he had from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The call, is believed to be the first between a US president or president-elect and a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic relations between Washington and the island were cut in 1979.

In her congratulatory message, Tsai reportedly “noted the close economic, political, and security ties” between Taiwan and the United States.

Political observers have said that Trump picking up that call from Tsai risks opening up a major diplomatic dispute with China before he has even been inaugurated. After he was roundly criticised by many from the establishment, Trump made another tweet suggesting that it was hypocritical for a US leader not to talk to Taiwan.

Trump also received a call from Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. Mr Lee writing in his Facebook said that the call was to congratulate him on winning the US presidential elections and to invite him and his family to visit Singapore.

Mr Lee said they also talked about the close and long-standing friendship between Singapore and US.

“We talked about the close and long-standing friendship between Singapore and US. We cooperate in many areas – economic, defence and security, education, and people-to-people. Our relations have endured through nine US Presidents, and Singapore wants to work with the incoming Administration to further strengthen ties.”

Singapore is a maintenance and resupply hub for US military assets and the regional base for more than 1,500 US companies, and a strong partner on a broad range of priorities including climate change, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and regional maritime security. But Trump saw no need to tweet about this phone call.

But Trump’s phone call with with Tsai was more tweet-worthy than his conversation with Lee because while Singapore has had close relationship with the ruling elites in Washington under three Prime Ministers, Taiwan’s leaders have not had direct contact with their US counterparts since 1979.