Trump Adviser Hoekstra: 'We've Had a Failed Policy for Eight Years with China'

Susan Jones | December 6, 2016 | 6:29am EST
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President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping following the conclusion of their joint news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP File Photo)

( - Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, an adviser to the Trump campaign and transition, said on Monday there's nothing reckless about President-elect Donald Trump taking a congratulatory phone call from the leader of Taiwan, even if it upset Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of "one China."

Hoekstra, a former chair of the House intelligence committee, told Fox News's Megyn Kelly that Trump is doing exactly what the Republican Party platform calls for and what he said on the campaign trail -- that his administration will be tough on China.

"We've had a failed policy for eight years with China. There are cyber-attacks against us, millions of Americans' personal data is compromised. They're building these islands in the South China Sea, then claiming territorial rights. There are unfair trade practices. And one place we really need their help is North Korea," Hoekstra said.

"This just says, things are going to be different; there is a new sheriff in town. And we're going to stand up to China -- we're going to stand up to you, we're going to demand a change.

"This is the exact thing our allies in the region are looking for. I've talked to the Japanese, I've talked to the South Koreans. They recognize that our policy has failed, and that we need to come together for a new policy toward China."

Both the White House and State Department took multiple questions Monday about Trump's contact with the leader of Taiwan, which is the United States' ninth largest trading partner.

Even so, the U.S. has maintained decades of deference to China, breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 as the price for doing business with China.

Since 1979, no U.S. president or president-elect has had direct contact with Taiwan's leaders. All informal contact is at lower levels of government, and that's what happened after Trump took the phone call from Taiwan this past Friday.

"I can confirm that U.S. officials, including senior officials at the National Security Council, have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to reiterate our country's continued commitment to a one-China policy," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.

"This is a policy that is based on three joint U.S.-China communiques that were negotiated by different U.S. presidents and different parties and, of course, by the Taiwan Relations Act.

"This is a policy that's been in place for nearly 40 years, and it has been focused on promoting and preserving peace and stability in the strait. This has -- the adherence to and commitment to this policy has advanced the ability of the United States to make progress in our relationship with China and of course has benefited the people of Taiwan.

"Taiwan, after all, is the ninth largest trading partner of the United States, and they certainly benefit from peace and stability in the strait and pursuit to -- pursuit of and commitment to that peace and stability that advances U.S. interests. If the president-elect's team has a different aim, I'll leave it to them to describe," Earnest said.

Earnest said it's "unclear exactly what potential benefit could be experienced by the United States, China or Taiwan" by shaking up the status quo.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that the Chinese vice foreign minister spoke with U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus about the Trump-Taiwan phone call on Saturday.

"Our primary in stable, peaceful cross-strait relations. And the -- one of the ways in which we pursue this, and we've done so since, I think, 1979, is that we remain firmly committed to this policy of one China. And as I said, that has not changed previous to or since the phone call by the President-elect."

Toner said U.S. policy toward China will stay as it is, "at least for the balance of this administration."

Asked about the benefits of the one-China policy, Toner said it's allowed the U.S. "to develop relations -- frankly, closer relations with Beijing and also to deepen our unofficial ties with Taipei. So in our estimation, it's been a productive policy to pursue given Beijing's very serious concerns in this case. Again, it's allowed us, in a sense, to, as I say, deepen our cooperation with China on many different aspects, including economic, but certainly security and others; but also, as I said, at the same time, we're able to still pursue relations with Taipei."

The 2016 Republican Party platform says a "weak" Obama administration has "invited aggression" and "emboldened China."

It also says, on page 48: "We salute the people of Taiwan, with whom we share the values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy, and the rule of law. Our relations will continue to be based upon the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, and we affirm the Six Assurances given to Taiwan in 1982 by President Reagan. We oppose any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Straits on the principle that all issues regarding the island’s future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, and be agreeable to the people of Taiwan.

"If China were to violate those principles, the United States, in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself. We praise efforts by the new government in Taipei to continue constructive relations across the Taiwan Strait and call on China to reciprocate..."

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