Ex-Cheney aide in Taiwan, denies arranging Trump-Tsai call

A former White House official on Tuesday denied media speculation that he helped arrange a phone call between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (???) but described the call as "a very good beginning" in the relationship between the two administrations.

Stephen Yates, deputy national security adviser to then-U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration, said he hoped the U.S. and Taiwan would take advantage of the opportunity as a starting point to effectively expand their bilateral relations.

The adviser to the Trump transition team made the comments to waiting reporters when he arrived in Taiwan early Tuesday for a pre-arranged visit.

He said his meetings in Taiwan had yet to be confirmed but there are media reports saying that he will see Tsai later this week.

Yates is believed to be the first former Republican administration official to visit Taiwan since Tsai called Trump last Friday in an exchange that has captured the imagination of the people of Taiwan.

It was the first interaction of its kind since the United States switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in January 1979.

The call raised many eyebrows in the United States, with critics and media outlets saying Trump broke diplomatic convention and risked upsetting U.S. relations with China.

According to accounts from both sides, Tsai called Trump to congratulate him on winning the U.S. presidential election and Trump extended his congratulations on her electoral victory early this year.

In their conversation that lasted over 10 minutes, the two leaders also discussed economic and defense issues, and Tsai expressed her hope for more bilateral exchanges and contacts.

Yates is currently chairman of the Idaho Republican Party and was one of those responsible for including the "Six Assurances" given to Taiwan by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and the Taiwan Relations Act in the Republican Party's platform at its national convention in July.

As a Mormon missionary in Kaohsiung in the 1980s, Yates developed several friendships that he still maintains, he told reporters.

In addition, he visited Taiwan several times while working at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, before and after his Bush administration tenure.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel