With last Friday's phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen which broke decades of US protocol, still creating ripples among diplomatic circles and the political punditry, not to mention continue to fascinate the media which leads today with such speculative headlines as Wooed by Trump, Taiwan Trembles, China urges U.S. to block transit by Taiwan president, U.S. seeks to reassure Beijing after Trump call with Taiwan leader, Dispensing With Tip-Toeing, Trump Puts Taiwan in Play, and many more, one question that still remains largely unanswered: why did Trump do it? Was it a carefully calculated move? Was Trump unaware of the geopolitical consequences of speaking to the Taiwan president? Was there any thought at all in accepting the Taiwanese phone call, or was it merely just an ego boost?
Well, as it turns out, the call may not have been Trump's idea at all becase, as the WSJ reports, Donald Trump's call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was instead organized by former Republican senator and one-time presidential nominee, Bob Dole.
Dole told the Journal that the law firm he is affiliated with does work with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. “It’s fair to say that we may have had some influence,” he said.
Chinese officials late Friday and early Saturday played down Mr. Trump’s precedent-breaking phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, which a transition official said had been arranged by Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and presidential nominee. The call went beyond pleasantries and included a discussion about China and stability in the Asia-Pacific, according to a person familiar with the call. The Chinese directed their ire at Taiwan and not at Mr. Trump.
Mr. Dole, in an interview, said the law firm he is affiliated with does work with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., and that the firm played a role in arranging the phone call. “It’s fair to say that we may have had some influence,” Mr. Dole said.
In other words, there may not have been much more "strategy" to the call than merely the former presidential candidate trying to pull some strings for his own personal interests and getting Trump to go with it. It may also explain why Trump is set to meet with Henry Kissinger (more on that shortly) - the man who indirectly opened up China to the US - later today, perhaps to glean some insight into just what the current state of relationship between China, the US and Taiwan is and to get some diplomatic tips on how to approach Beijing in the future... that, and maybe to offer him a slot in the Trump administration.