TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Heritage Foundation founder Edwin Feulner, a senior adviser to Donald Trump’s transition team, referred to Tsai Ing-wen as a ''longtime friend' who made the call as a 'private citizen'.
Rather than having met with US President-elect Donald Trump or members on his transition team, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was reported to have chatted with Heritage Foundation founder Edwin Feulner, a senior adviser to Trump’s transition team, over the phone, according to reports on Tuesday.
According to Liberty Times, Feulner said through an emailed response, that he had not met with President Tsai, however, both had exchanged a five-minute chat over the phone on Saturday.
"I accepted the call from a longtime friend as a private citizen and in no way represented the president-elect (Donald Trump) or the Trump transition," he said via e-mail, in response to questions by Taiwanese reporters on whether he met with Tsai.
Both had discussed about US-Taiwan relations, the email read.
Feulner confirmed through the email that he was still a member on Trump’s transition team, but maintained that her call with him was based on “an over two-year long friendship between two old friends.”
The Presidential Office has yet to provide a comment on the matter, as of press time.
It was reported that Tsai had met Feulner, Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, and Randall Schriver, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, for lunch in Houston on January 7.
The report was rebutted by Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang in a recent statement, who would not divulge who met with the president during her stopover in the US based on mutual respect.
The reported list of participants at the meeting with Tsai was inaccurate, however, he said. The Presidential Office did not mention the phone call with Feulner in the response and has not replied to the Post’s request for confirmation on the call.
Three foreign affairs sources in Washington said Feulner indeed originally had made plans to meet with Tsai for lunch on Saturday.
The sources say he had cancelled the gathering due to Beijing’s “extreme pressuring” on the Trump camp and over concerns of a sensitive timing, as the US government was in the throes of incoming and outgoing administration transition.
Tsai’s stopover in Houston over the weekend was closely followed and monitored by Beijing authorities since the Taiwanese president reached out to Trump in December through a phone call, breaking decades of US-Taiwan policy.
Despite Beijing’s request, Tsai had met with several US politicians as well, such as US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in a statement, told mainland Chinese authorities to understand politicians in America can make their own decisions about meeting with visitors without foreign intervention.