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Donald Trump's Call With Taiwan President Was No Surprise: Official

F. Brinley Bruton, Abigail Williams, Ed Flanagan and Eric Baculinao
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday November 03, 2016.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

A phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwan's leader that risks damaging relations between the U.S. and China was prearranged, a top Taiwanese official told NBC News on Saturday.

Trump — who lambasted China throughout the election campaign and promised to slap 45 percent tariffs on Chinese goods — tweeted that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had called him.

Trump calls Taiwan's president: Financial Times

"Maintaining good relations with the United States is as important as maintaining good relations across the Taiwan Strait," Taiwanese presidential spokesman Alex Huang told NBC News. "Both are in line with Taiwan's national interest."

He added that the call had not been a surprise.

The conversation represented a stark break in U.S. foreign policy and could enrage China. The U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1979, when it recognized the People's Republic of China as sole legal government. China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and the two have nearly gone to war three times since 1949.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council, said that the administration remains "firmly committed to our 'one China' policy."

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Taiwan Presidential Office | AP

"There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues," he said Friday.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi initially called the call a "little trick played by Taiwan."

The ministry later issued a formal statement on the conversation, saying it had lodged "a solemn representation to the United States" over the call.

"It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China," the statement added. "One China policy is the political basis of China-U.S. relations."

The call is believed to be one of the first between a U.S. president and a leader from Taiwan in decades. China, a regional powerhouse, has long resented U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and has rebuffed U.S. pressure to curb its activity in the disputed South China Sea.

While the U.S. does not formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, it has sold $12 billion in arms to the island as part of a 1970s agreement that commits Washington to helping Taiwan defend itself.

Taiwan Presidential Office | AP

After the call, Taiwan's presidential office said Tsai "hopes to see a strengthened interaction and connection as well as a closer cooperation between two sides" and "also expressed to president-elect Trump her wishes for the U.S. to continue supporting Taiwan to have more opportunities to participate in and contribute to global agenda."

Trump also spoke by phone Friday with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who welcomed Trump's election to the U.S. presidency.

The U.S- Philippines relationship has been ambivalent since Duterte took office, with the Philippines President announcing his "separation" from the U.S. in October while praising both China and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tensions over the president's handling of the country's war on drugs have lead to heated anti-American rhetoric from Duterte including referring to President Barack Obama in Filipino slang as the son of a whore and telling him to "go to hell."

The Pakistani government said of Wednesday's call between the two leaders that President-elect Trump had referred to Prime Minister Sharif as a "terrific guy" with "a very good reputation," and told him he was "doing amazing work which is visible in every way." According to the readout by the Pakistani government, Trump also said he would visit Pakistan, a country yet to be visited by President Obama during both terms in office.

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