Washington: United States President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone on Friday with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan on Friday, a striking break with nearly four decades of diplomatic practice that could precipitate a major rift with China even before he takes office.
Trump's office said he had spoken with the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen who offered her congratulations on winning the Presidency.
He is believed to be the first president or president-elect who has spoken to a Taiwanese leader since at least 1979, when the United States severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan as part of its recognition of the People’s Republic of China.
Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, said, "Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact."
The two noted that "close economic, political and security ties exist between Taiwan and the United States," the Trump transition team said in a statement. Taiwan`s presidential office said the two discussed strengthening bilateral interactions and establishing closer cooperation.
The call comes at a time of worsened Taiwan-China relations since the election of Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earlier this year.
The White House responded to the call by saying that "longstanding policy" on China and Taiwan had not changed.
Meawhile raising objection to the bilateral communication between the two leaders, China on Saturday sought an explanation from the White House over the move.
"We firmly opposes any official interaction or military contact between the US and Taiwan," a Chinese official said.
Trump also in a tweet over the conversation said, "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!"
"Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call," he added.
The remark was in reference to the $1.83 billion contract signed in 2015 by President Barack Obama`s administration, which included military equipment for Taiwan, a sale that angered Beijing.
Former US President Jimmy Carter formally declared Beijing as the only government of China in 1979, thereby ending formal diplomatic relations between the US and Taiwan.
Washington closed its embassy in Taipei in 1980.