Zakaria Gives an Unexpected Take on Trump’s Taiwan Call: ‘The Truth Of the Matter Is…’


President-elect Donald Trump‘s decision to speak directly to Taiwan last week in the wake of his upset presidential election victory has left many in the global community scratching their heads. After all, the move very clearly could (in the opinions of many people) put our relationship with China in a tight spot, and Trump’s approach to diplomacy is already raising questions.

The Washington Post called it a “historic communication,” largely because no sitting president in nearly four decades has communicated directly with Taiwan out of respect for China, as the latter does not recognize Taiwanese independence. But many other media outlets were far more suspicious of Trump’s move; New York Magazine said the call, “risks a diplomatic disaster,” The Guardian said it, “risks China’s wrath,” and Business Insider identified (correctly) that it was “likely to infuriate China.”

Sure enough, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement, “The ‘one China’ policy is the cornerstone of a healthy China-U.S. relationship. I hope this political foundation won’t be disrupted or damaged.”

But CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, the host of GPS, recognized that there politically advantageous motives towards a call with Taiwan that circumvents Chinese approval, and it comes down to diplomatic leverage. “Making some overtures to Taiwan is not a bad idea,” he offered to the cohosts of New Day.

“People look to American foreign policy as a kind of bedrock of international order,” Zakaria said Monday morning, saying that people may be looking a bit too much into the phone call.

“[For] the substance of it, I think, people are getting a bit too critical. The truth of the matter is we need leverage with China. China is a country that cooperates with the United States on many issues, but on many issues we need to be able to push them harder,” he said.

However, Zakaria was quick to warn that the move was seemingly done in a hasty way, pointing out that none of our allies in the global community were made aware of the call until after it was done. The CNN anchor further referred to it as “Twitter-based diplomacy.”

“The key here is that it should be part of a thought-through strategy,” Zakaria continued. Watch above via CNN’s New Day.

J.D. Durkin (@jivedurkey) is an editorial producer and columnist at Mediaite.

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