NOPE: Reuters is still running the story as if it hadn't been outed for lying about it and as if there were no controversy.
UPDATE: Reuters has apologized for playing the President for clickbait. Just a 'misunderstanding'. Yes of course it was a set up:
In response to media queries, Lee said Reuters had submitted a list of questions in advance, but the one about a possible repeat of the telephone call between Tsai and Trump was not on the list....did Reuters mess with the US-Taiwan relationship? You bet....
He said Washington was concerned over Tsai’s comment about the possibility of calling Trump until the ministry provided them with a full transcript of the interview....luckily plenty of people in Washington saw what was going on. ....on to the original post...
Wow. Reuters one-two punched President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and President Trump of the US, harmed Taiwan, possibly impacted US policy, possibly encouraged Xi of China to move whatever invasion plans he has forward... the ramifications of Reuters' creation of a sensationalist story are endless, and entirely negative.
Check out the clickbait title of the first half of this setup garbage:
Exclusive: Taiwan president says phone call with Trump can take place againWhat did Tsai say? Reuters quotes her correctly in the full text of the article.
"We have the opportunity to communicate more directly with the U.S. government," Tsai told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Thursday.The question of another call was a hypothetical from Reuters, not Tsai, and obviously intended to elicit a sensational answer that Reuters could sex up, as it actually did. Tsai could hardly answer this any other way. She could not have said "No, no, we won't accept another call opportunity" since she could not justify that either domestically or snub the US that way. So she carefully said: "It depends," the correct, polite, human answer.
"We don't exclude the opportunity to call President Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the U.S. government's consideration of regional affairs."
Of course, she wasn't talking to people dealing in the same good faith she was.
Consider the other possibilities for a headline. Based on that exact same quote, Reuters could with the same logic have written:
Tsai may refuse to take another call from TrumpWhat a clickbait headline that would have made! Reuters really missed an opportunity there. Or
Possible second Trump-Tsai call depends on regional situation....which is a precis of what Tsai said and would have been fairer reporting.
Despite its vile purpose, the Reuters piece did contain some hilarious moments:
The call angered Beijing because it fears contacts between Taiwan and government leaders would confer sovereignty on the island. Democratic Taiwan, self-ruled since 1949, has no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.....if only contacts with US leaders could confer sovereignty! Many commenters on this Reuters piece missed the part at the bottom:
She tweeted congratulations to Trump minutes after he took office in January, and when asked if she might tweet him again, Tsai said: "Might not be a bad idea. I'll give some thought to it."Reuters was at it again subtly trolling her with another Trump-related hypothetical, apparently hoping that a tweet from her would send Trump into another frenzy of clickbait newsy tweets. She should refrain from further tweets about/to Trump. And further interviews with Reuters.
I guess in this age of shrinking news staffs, it is cheaper for news organizations to manufacture news than to go through the arduous and costly process of reporting it.
But withal, Reuters was really not interested in embarrassing Tsai, she was just the collateral damage of their set up of Trump, who got the same hypothetical question in his interview. In framing Trump's words, Reuters straight-up lied about what was said:
Trump, sipping a Coke delivered by an aide after the president ordered it by pressing a button on his desk, rebuffed an overture from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who told Reuters a direct phone call with Trump could take place again after their first conversation in early December angered Beijing.The part in blue was what everyone reacted to, and it certainly would be a departure from previous US policy, if Trump ever did what he said he would do. Emily Rauhala at WaPo said the same thing:
China considers neighboring Taiwan to be a renegade province.
"My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi," said Trump. "I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him.
"So I would certainly want to speak to him first."
As is often the case with the U.S. president, it is not clear whether Thursday’s comments amount to a change in policy or are just another off-the-cuff remark.But even as he was speaking, US officials were in Taiwan (below) talking to officials there entirely without consulting with Xi. Many observers pointed out that Trump was referring to the N Korean crisis -- note the words "right now" and not foreclosing the possibility or indicating that at all future points, Xi would be consulted. Overreading Trump's remarks for clickbait is irresistable.
No, the part of the Reuters interview that is vile is bolded in red above. Read Tsai's comments, and then ask yourself: can the reader honestly say that Tsai "made an overture"? No reasonable person could say that Tsai "made an overture". Indeed, she went out of her way not to. Remember, Tsai was not actively bringing up the subject, but responding to a hypothetical.
Reuters simply sexed it up, and that action of sexing it up is strong evidence that Reuters paired these interviews on successive days to generate just such a situation, taking advantage of Trump's mouth. At what possible costs to the situation in E Asia, no one can say at the moment.
Reuters even timed it so the news would come out on Friday, meaning that there could be no State Department/Administration response and it would dominate the news cycle over the weekend. Brilliant.
(Why report that Trump was sipping a Coke he got via a button? Why is that worth mentioning? Is that news? It's just a gratuitous hack at Trump, noise whose only purpose is to register the reporter's contempt.)
It's not that Trump says stupid things. That's a given, he's been doing it since day 1 and no one ever expected different. Note that US policy remains largely unchanged: working around the edges to give Taiwan as much space as it can. This week AIT head James Moriarty was in town to talk about getting Taiwan more space in international organizations... and Adm Harry Harris of PACOM said before the House Armed Services Committee that any attempt by China to use force to annex Taiwan would be unacceptable (Chinese)(Video of his testimony). It's important to separate what Trump says from what is happening...
No, the problem is that behind Trump there is no team to issue clarifications, keep policy on track, manage Trump, and calm everyone down. WaPo's Josh R reports that Trump's Asia team has not been put in place.
But none of Trump’s top officials had deep Asia experience before joining the administration, and inside their departments nearly all of the Asia-related political-appointee positions remain unfilled or staffed by temporary civil servants. There is no appointed assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, no assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs and zero Trump ambassadors to Asia are in place. Only one, nominee for Beijing Terry Branstad, has even been submitted for consideration to the Senate.This is an unmitigated disaster, and things are only going to get worse.
Note: Nelson Report commentary below....
- Migrant workers in Taiwan say no to brokers and call for government run system. Recall that last time someone introduced legislation to alter this system, they were threatened by gangsters. There's tons of money in human trafficking.
- Gazillionaire Terry Gou of Honhai visits the White House, fueling speculation that he might run on the KMT ticket in 2020. The reason his name has been floated is simple: the KMT might not have the money to fund the kind of campaigns they've run in the past -- but Gou does.
- Good news for English teachers: the legislature is hearing calls to make English the official second language.
- The new infrastructure bill will go back for another round of meetings. The KMT is well aware of how much its local clout depends on feeding and watering its patronage networks with infrastructure money, and will fight to the death.
- Beijing takes aim at Taiwanese young. I hope they study in China, it will teach them how un-Chinese they are. As a sharp observer pointed out on Twitter, there is nothing new here in these supposed new policies.
- Memory chip exports up.
- Meteor shower peaks May 6
SUMMARY: in an absolutely stunning Reuters interview, Trump last night played his "dump NAFTA" card on S. Korea, calling KORUS the "worst deal ever"; apparently under the impression that THAAD is to protect the ROK from DPRK missiles, rather than Japan and the US bases in the region, demands Seoul pay for it; and to cap off surely NSC Asia chief Matt Pottinger's worst day so far, seems to be throwing Taiwan and Pres.Tsai under the bus to enhance his best-buds relationship with China's Xi Jinping.
A closer reading of Trump on a possible Tsai phone call can give a more generous interpretation, that he was trying to say that given his good relations with Xi, and all the things on Xi's plate, maybe he'd give Xi a "heads up" before he talked with Tsai? If one is being generous. (Bloomberg News is not so inclined, see below.)
TRUMP'S "CHECK WITH XI ON TAIWAN" REMARK, in the context of an interview with Tsai in which she says she's possibly open to another phone call (scroll down for that text)...an excerpt from the Reuters Trump interview below:
China considers neighboring Taiwan to be a renegade province
Trump, sipping a Coke delivered by an aide after the president ordered it by pressing a button on his desk, rebuffed an overture from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who told Reuters a direct phone call with Trump could take place again after their first conversation in early December angered Beijing.
"My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi," said Trump. "I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him. "So I would certainly want to speak to him first."
Hummm..."check first", or just give Xi a "heads up"? A Concerned Observer who must be protected:
I think that President Tsai should not have arranged for an interview at this time that touched on US-Taiwan relations. In any case, regardless of the timing, there should be no discussion about possible presidential phone calls with the media. Regardless of the question, the answer should be "The US and Taiwan have smooth and effective communication at various levels." Reuters kept pressing, but Tsai took the bait. She said more than she should have.
Trump's comments are very harmful to Taiwan regardless of the inclusion of the words "right now." I think this is the first time ever that a US president has said that he has to check with a PRC leader regarding whether he should talk to Taiwan. I hope it's the last, but the damage is done.
It is quite possible that China will not live up to US expectations and the Trump-Xi bromance will go up in flames. But until then, Taiwan needs to be cautious. Trump keeps signaling his willingness to give Xi Jinping carrots to entice him to put more pressure on North Korea. Taiwan should do its best to stay off Trump's radar for the time being.
Scroll down for DPP US Rep Mike Fonte's discussion of what Pres. Tsai actually said and meant...and Bloomberg's analysis...
LOYAL READER MIKE FONTE, the official DPP rep here in DC:
Taiwan's OOP put out a statement that is worth a read. See below.
My understanding is that the questions initially offered and listed by Reuters for the interview did not include one re US-Taiwan relations or a follow up Tsai/Trump call. The reporter worked over the issue rather assiduously, however. President Tsai was asked if she expected to have further conversations with President Trump. She replied:
"Of course, we hope to have more direct communications with the US government on important issues at crucial times.
While we will not exclude the possibility of another phone conversation with President Trump,
this will depend on the overall situation, as well as the US government's considerations on regional affairs."
I'd also note that President Trump's response, in his Reuter's interview, was also nuanced:
"My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi," said Trump.
"I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation.
So I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him."
"So I would certainly want to speak to him first."
So please note...qualifications all around. Especially NO "ask" by President Tsai for a cal... but only "we do not exclude the possibility" because "we hope to have more direct communications with the US government on important issues at crucial times."
And President Trump did not shut the door to such. His real meaning, to me? North Korea looms over everything, so not "right now."
Office of the President responds to media reports concerning President Tsai's recent interview with Reuters
Presidential Office Spokesperson Huang Chung-yen today addressed media reports concerning President Tsai Ing-wen's recent interview with Reuters. On the possibility of another phone call with the president of the US, he said given the strong mutual trust between Taiwan and the US, it was understandable the U.S. has its own priorities in the handling of regional affairs.
Questioned during the interview on April 27 about whether there will be further conversation with President Trump, President Tsai said she would not exclude the possibility, but it must depend on the overall situation, as well as the U.S. government's considerations on regional affairs. The full text of the interview makes this clear. However, media coverage on this has been inaccurate and misleading. Immediately following the publication of the Reuters story, the government reached out to all sides to ensure there would be no misunderstanding.
Mr. Huang said that according to the transcript, President Tsai's response to the Reuters question was: "Of course, we hope to have more direct communications with the US government on important issues at crucial times. While we will not exclude the possibility of another phone conversation with President Trump, this will depend on the overall situation, as well as the US government's considerations on regional affairs."
Finally, Mr. Huang expressed the president's view that while the government should not exclude different possibilities in light of Taiwan's difficult international situation, it should still take into account global events and considerations by different parties in order to pursue Taiwan's best interests.
BLOOMBERG concludes that Trump did throw Taiwan under the bus:
Trump Says Good Ties With China More Important Than Taiwan Call
by Ting Shi and Samson Ellis
Tells Reuters he would consult Xi before talking to Tsai
Remarks deal blow to Taiwan's bid for more U.S. recognition
President Donald Trump has curtailed Taiwan's hopes for greater U.S. recognition, saying he would consult with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before again talking to Taiwan's leader.
Trump said in an interview with Reuters that having another phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, like their precedent-breaking conversation in December, risked jeopardizing China's vital cooperation on North Korea. He was responding to Tsai's remark earlier this week that a second call was possible even though Trump was now in the White House.
"My problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi," Trump said, praising the Chinese leader's support on addressing the North Korean nuclear threat. "So, I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him. I think he's doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn't want to do anything that comes in the way of that.
"So, I would certainly want to speak to him first," he said.
The remarks are the latest sign Trump is abandoning his combative China rhetoric in favor of a more cooperative approach as he seeks Beijing's help in pressuring its neighbor and ally. Trump earlier this month withdrew a campaign pledge to label China a currency manipulator after discussing North Korea with Xi in their first summit in Palm Beach, Florida.
Taiwan's President Office said in a statement Friday that Tsai had no plans to repeat her Dec. 2 phone conversation with Trump. "We understand that the United States has priorities in dealing with regional matters," the office said.
'Back to Normal'
The phone call with Tsai was among Trump's most provocative moves toward China before taking office. Top U.S. officials have for more than four decades avoided direct contact with their Taiwanese counterparts to maintain relations with China, which has regarded the island a breakaway province since their split in 1949.
The call seemed to indicate that Trump might support Tsai's pursuit of greater international recognition for the isolated island of 23.5 million. Trump later reaffirmed his support for the so-called One-China policy in a phone call with Xi, paving the way for their meeting in Florida.
"It's back to normal after taking some interesting initiatives in December," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, who heads Hong Kong Baptist University's government and international studies department. "Trump is trying to accommodate both sides, more Beijing than Taipei of course, but without fully closing doors on Taiwan."
Cabestan said Trump's suggestion he might consult with Xi before speaking with Tsai suggested an openness to "co-management" of Taiwan disputes. No U.S. administration had suggested such an approach before.
Ruan Zongze, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing and a former top diplomat in Washington, said Trump's remarks were proof Xi's trip to the U.S. had been "very successful."
Trump's interview further clouds the prospects for greater U.S. military support for Taiwan, especially as Xi is set to consolidate power at a Communist Party congress later this year. Taiwan, which has for decades relied on American security aid to deter China, plans to include F-35 fighter jets in its first arms request to the Trump administration.
Wang Ting-yu, head of the Taiwanese legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said that Trump's suggestion he would speak with Xi before Tsai went against the U.S.'s traditional approach on Taiwan.
"We would like to send a strong reminder to an old friend that the United States' own rules say that they cannot discuss issues relating to Taiwan with China first," Wang said. "They must discuss them with Taiwan first. Those are America's own rules."
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