Last night, Donald Trump violated America’s strategically crucial 37-year old “One China” policy by contacting the President of Taiwan directly without a plan, which one Democratic Senator pointed out is how wars can accidentally start. Reports indicate that Trump’s representatives have been seeking a hotel deal in Taipei since at least September of this year.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Asia, and he tweeted ominously similar diplomatic blunders without plans to follow through have started wars. Murphy acknowledged that while it will become Trump’s right to change foreign policy next year, consistency is vitally important as a means to any positive end in diplomacy.
(2) What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That's how wars start.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2016
Trump’s company has been seeking to make a deal in the island’s Aerotropolis mega-development, which the Mayor of Tauyuan – the city of 2 million people where the airport is located – confirmed back in September of this year, which apparently involves his son Eric Trump.
Since the election, Trump has already used this year’s election to get a hotel approved in Argentina, let his daughter into a secret meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan and now this, which has caused China to file a formal diplomatic complaint with “solemn representations.”
News reports from Taiwan indicate that Eric Trump is planning a personal visit to the region in support of the family’s desire to locate a hotel on the island.
A representative from the Trump Organization paid a visit to Taoyuan in September, expressing interest in the city’s Aerotropolis, a large-scale urban development project aimed at capitalizing on Taoyuan’s status as a transport hub for East Asia, Taiwan News reports.
With the review process for the Aerotropolis still underway, Taoyuan’s mayor referred to the subject of the meeting as mere investment speculation. Other reports indicate that Eric Trump, the president-elect’s second son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will be coming to Taoyuan later this year to discuss the potential business opportunity.
Also, The Guardian discovered a Trump Organization salesperson was in Taiwan for what she said was a business inquiry:
Anne-Marie Donoghue, who describes herself as the global head of transient sales and Asia at Trump Hotels, was confirmed to have been in Taiwan in October. In a Facebook exchange with a friend on 15 October, Donoghue said: “OMG I’m in Taipei now and love it here. Flying to Hong Kong in a few hours. Miss you too!!” Her friend asked: “Are you on a fun trip or work trip? You will love HK too … They have great food!”
To which Donoghue replied: “Work trip but it has been so fun!!!”
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, Amanda Miller, told the New York Times the company had “no plans for expansion into Taiwan”, and there had been no “authorised visits” to push a Trump development project. However, Miller did not dispute that Donoghue, a sales manager, had visited Taiwan in October.
Donald Trump has been conducting official business without the Secretary of State’s office from his private offices in New York City on a massive magnitude and scope.
America’s policy towards One China reflects a diplomatic approach known as strategic ambiguity, which even private organizations the Olympics abide managing affairs between the island and mainland. This means that there’s a dispute between Taiwan and Beijing which is unresolved. As Trump himself unsubtly observed on twitter the United States sells arms to one side in the smoldering conflict between the island who wishes to remain entirely independent, and the mainland who disputes Taiwan’s right to self-government and diplomatic recognition.
Remaining purposefully coy about this situation is the lynchpin of our diplomatic ties to both China and the island of Taiwan.
However, the Logan Act is a federal law meant to prevent private citizens from conducting diplomacy i foreign nations in relation to a dispute or controversy, which seemingly Donald Trump’s phone call could violate.
§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
- Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
The President-elect (a legally meaningless term to describe a private citizen) hasn’t even been formally voted upon by the Electoral Collage as President yet, but he’s operating entirely outside the boundaries of the United States government’s diplomatic channels to act as Lobbyist-in-Chief before inauguration day.
Although the President is not subject to certain federal ethics laws, it is unconstitutional for the President of the United States to accept foreign payments, and short of a complete divestiture of the Trump Organization legal experts say that this Constitutional bar on foreign entanglements is sweeping, should be strictly construed and cannot be shaken by the Republican President-elect.
Republicans have installed a President-elect whose random ideas about diplomacy seem to have an extremely high correlation to the places where his global licensing business empire has operations.
Shamefully, Trump isn’t even waiting to take office to cause diplomatic nightmares that could impact all Americans negatively.
Is this even legal?
Learn more about the Taiwan mega-development where Trump wants a hotel:
H/T to reader Jeanette Arthur.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition