An economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said Monday that he was glad Trump had spoken on the phone with the president of the Taiwan. “If China doesn’t like it, screw ’em,” Stephen Moore said.
In a radio interview on the Big John and Ray Show on WLS-AM 890, surfaced by CNN, Moore defended Trump’s call with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, the first time in nearly four decades a U.S. leader has spoken with their Taiwanese counterpart over the phone.
“Taiwan is our ally,” Moore said, noting that he had spoken with the hosts about the issue off-air and wanted to speak about it publicly. “That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We oughta back our ally, and if China doesn’t like it, screw ’em.”
Moore seemed to justify Trump’s decision to accept—or plan far in advance, according to a Washington Post report Monday—a call from Tsai as a response to Chinese provocations in the South China Sea, a contentious area for multiple nations who see Chinese island creation in the area as overly aggressive.
“We gotta stand by Taiwan, we see what’s happening in China the way they’re saber-rattling out there in the East, it’s about time we do what Reagan did, we stand up to these bullies, we say we’re not gonna let you do this, and we’re gonna stand with our allies,” Moore said.
Reagan, notably, never spoke with Taiwan’s president over the phone, though he did draw China’s ire by inviting a Taiwanese delegation to a 1981 inaugural ball. Following an uproar from Chinese diplomats, the delegation did not attend.
“I love the fact that Trump did that. Too many mamby-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!” he continued shortly before the interview came to an end.
Moore is an economic adviser to Trump. Previously, he was a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and founder of Club for Growth, a conservative group that advocates for domestic tax cuts.
On Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to Trump’s unusual call, saying the “One China” policy “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 of and commitment to that peace and stability advances U.S. interests,” Earnest said. “If the President-elect’s team has a different aim, I’ll leave it to them to describe.”
Since Friday’s call, Trump has written numerous times about China on his Twitter page, saying, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into […] their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” Trump wrote later.
Listen below via CNN: