White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted Monday that President-elect Donald Trump's unexpected Friday phone call with the president of Taiwan has left multiple U.S. officials scrambling to do damage control. "I can confirm that U.S. officials, including senior officials of the National Security Council, have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to reiterate our country's continued commitment to One-China policy," Earnest said, discussing the longstanding American policy against formally recognizing Taiwan as a nation independent of China. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of the mainland.
When Trump picked up the phone Friday, he did what no other U.S. leader has done in nearly 40 years by communicating directly with Taiwan's leader. Aside from a disruption of the status quo, Earnest suggested Trump's actions also could have jeopardized an agreement that has proved crucial to "promoting and preserving peace and stability in the Strait." "The adherence to and commitment to this policy has advanced the ability of the United States to make progress in our relationship with China," Earnest said, noting that the set-up is also beneficial to Taiwan. Earnest later added, "If the president-elect's team has a different aim, I'll leave it to them to describe."