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Pence defends Trump on Taiwan call, Carrier plant action

Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks at a

Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally to stump for Republican Senate candidate Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy in New Orleans, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert

Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Sunday downplayed a call between President-elect Donald Trump and the president of Taiwan on Friday, calling it a “courtesy call.”

The Indiana governor on Sunday morning talk shows said Trump was not sending a message to China or the diplomatic community, which was taken aback by the first call between a U.S. president or president-elect and the head of Taiwan since 1979.

“This was a courtesy call with the democratically elected leader of Taiwan,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. The controversy over the call, he said, seems “a little bit like a tempest in the teapot.” Pence said Trump has spoken to more than 50 leaders since his election Nov. 8.

Trump’s phone conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen was a breach of long-standing tradition that risks enmity from China, experts said.

The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, and has since not formally recognized Taiwan as its own country, but rather as a part of China.

Also on Sunday morning political talk shows, Pence praised Trump for saving about half of 2,000 jobs at a Carrier manufacturing plant in Indiana. He batted away criticism, including from former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, that Trump was singling out companies for special treatment and engaged in what she called “crony capitalism.”

“What the president-elect did with Carrier was simply reach out, one American to another, and just ask them to reconsider,” Pence said on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “He told them we’re going to do exactly what we said we would do in this campaign, we’re going to make the American economy more competitive, we’re going to get tougher and smarter on trade deals.” The company in February had rebuffed tax incentive offers when it announced it was moving jobs to Mexico, Pence said.

Trump, in a series of tweets on Sunday morning, also took aim at companies looking to leave the United States. He said companies would be making an “expensive mistake” and reiterated a campaign promise that there would be a 35 percent tax on companies trying to import goods into the United States after layoffs and moving jobs.

“The U.S. is going to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!” he tweeted.

With The Associated Press

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