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Politics

SoCal community watches Trump, Taiwan closely




President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, pictured earlier this year, a conversation that may irritate the Chinese government.
President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, pictured earlier this year, a conversation that may irritate the Chinese government.
Chiang Ying-ying/AP

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Usually, the president-elect makes news by Tweeting, but a Donald Trump phone call is getting a lot of attention in Asia – and among the Chinese and Taiwanese community right here in Southern California.

"I was pretty surprised," said Pei-te Lien, professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "It really has reversed the long-time marginalization, if not neglect, of the U.S. treating Taiwan either as an international orphan or as a second-class citizen in Chinese politics."

On Friday, Trump took a call from the president of Taiwan. At first glance it may have seemed like a routine call between world leaders as Trump prepares to transition into the White House.

But it's generating a lot of anxiety in China. No other U.S. president or president-elect has spoken directly with Taiwanese leadership since 1979. That's when the the U.S. cut off direct ties to Taiwan over China's policy toward the island-nation. China considers Taiwan a part of mainland China.

Though many here in Southern California are watching the developments closely, views remain divided over what it could mean for U.S. relations with China and Taiwan moving forward, said Lien. According to figures from Taiwan's government, California’s exports to Taiwan reached $7.8 Billion in 2015 and is the state's fifth largest market in Asia.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue media player above.