Ever since Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Trump supporters have been trying their best to legitimatize the controversial call. If secretary of state hopeful Jon Huntsman represents the more rational, adult side of these justifications, then Stephen Moore likely speaks for the opposite side.
When asked about China’s objections to the protocol-breaking phone call during a recent radio interview that was dug up by CNN, Moore, chief economist of the The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, was a tad dismissive:
Too many namby-pamby people in the foreign policy shop are saying “Oh my gosh we can’t do this, we might insult the Chinese.” I don’t care if we insult the Chinese.
Taiwan is our ally. That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We ought to back our ally, and if China doesn’t like it, screw ’em.
Moore, who was one of the top economic advisers to Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, added: “We see what’s happening in China the way they’re sabre rattling out there in the East, it’s about time we do what Reagan did, we stand up to these bullies.”
As Talking Points Memo points out, Reagan never spoke with Taiwan’s president during his two terms in office, setting a precedent that Trump recently shattered. Reagan did invite a Taiwanese delegation to his 1981 inaugural ball. However, they didn’t end up attending after Chinese diplomats raised an uproar over the issue.
Moore is just one of many Republican politicians and conservative pundits who have had their sense of duty toward Taiwanese democracy awoken by Trump’s call. Jon Huntsman, a former ambassador to China, said that Trump was “absolutely right” in picking up the phone. He also said that Trump, thanks to his lack of foreign policy experience, may bring a fresh approach to the “complex and sensitive” relationship between the US and China.
It’s unclear how big a part “screw ’em” will play in this new approach to the “one China” policy.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat