The Financial Times is reporting that the president-elect spoke by phone on Friday with Taiwan’s president, which would represent the first conversation between a U.S. president or president-elect with Taiwan’s leader since 1979, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties.
The FT cited three sources in reporting the phone call, which would almost certainly infuriate Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.
The Trump campaign had not responded to a request for comment on the call at the time of publication.
Jimmy Carter formally declared Beijing the sole government of China in 1979, which ended U.S. diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
It’s not clear how the call between Trump and Tsai came about, or who initiated it.
Evan Medeiros, a former national security council expert on Asia, told the FT that regardless of how the call originated, it could alter U.S.-China relations.
“Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative,” he said.
Trump’s call this week with Pakistan’s leader also raised eyebrows after that country’s government released a readout that said the president-elect had discussed going to Pakistan.
And Trump made waves on Friday with a report that he had invited the controversial leader of the Philippines to the White House.
The Shanghaiist reported last month that Trump was eyeing a major real estate project in Taiwan that would involve the construction of several luxury hotels and resorts.