Only President-Elect Donald Trump can spark a worldwide diplomatic tizzy and a media meltdown by accepting a phone call. In this case, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen called to congratulate Trump on his election to president of the United States. Trump took the phone call and let people know that he did so. Consternation and panic have ensured.

The problem is that since 1979, when then-President Jimmy Carter declared that Beijing is the sole government of China, the American stance toward Taiwan has been of studied ambiguity.

china regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that it intends to deal with when it gets around to it. Taiwan sees itself as a free and independent nation. The United States has maintained that whatever future arrangements between China and Taiwan happen must do so peacefully. America has sold billions of dollars of weapons to Taiwan to make sure that peace prevails. But it has also pretended that the island nation is not, in fact, a government.

When Trump accepted that phone call, the act was seen as upending almost 40 years of American China policy and treating Taiwan as a sovereign country again. The media is filled with panicked stories of how badly China will react to Trump’s act of courtesy. However, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York points out, Trump is following a deliberate strategy suggested by former UN Ambassador John Bolton, on his short list for secretary of state, several months ago.

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China is seizing large tracts of the South China Sea and the East China Sea by building artificial islands and fortifying them, in effect laying claim to vast mineral, oil, and fishing resources and placing a choke hold on trade routes throughout the Eastern Pacific. The maneuver has all of China’s neighbors worried.

Bolton suggested that the United States play the “Taiwan Card” against China, in effect showing Beijing that two can play the game of changing the balance of power in Asia.

The more aggressively China moves to seize international waters off its coast, the closer the United States will get to Taiwan. Far from being reckless, Trump is pursuing a well thought out strategy.

What does Trump think of all the consternation? He tweeted, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.” It was a biting taunt and to the point.

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