Vice President-Elect Pence Says Trump's Phone Call With Taiwan 'Just A Courtesy Call'

Pence spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

ByABC News
December 4, 2016, 12:52 PM

— -- President-elect Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan was "nothing more than taking a courtesy call," according to Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

"It's a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it, and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically-elected leader of Taiwan, and it’s become something of a controversy," Pence told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday morning.

"I think the American people are encouraged, rather, George, to see that President-elect Trump is taking calls from the world, speaking to the world," Pence said. "They know he's going to be out there advancing America's interests first with that broad-shouldered leadership that's characterized his entire life."

When asked whether the Trump administration would continue the "one China" foreign policy held by the U.S. since 1979, Pence said, "We'll deal with policy after January 20."

Trump's phone conversation Friday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen broke nearly four decades of sensitive U.S. policy toward China.

Pence said that Trump spoke with President Xi of China two weeks ago. "They had a great conversation," he said. "He's begun the relationship there. But after January 20, our new president will make decisions about what the policy of the United States will be."

Although Taiwan has held that it is an independent nation since it split from the Chinese mainland in a 1949 civil war, the U.S. established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, and has since not recognized Taiwan as its own country but rather as a part of China.

Since 1979, no phone calls between a U.S. president-elect and a Taiwanese leader have been publicly reported, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies China expert Bonnie Glaser.

Pence told Stephanopoulos that Taiwan's leader called Trump. "They reached out to offer congratulations as leaders around the world have," he said. "He took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes."