WASHINGTON (CN) – Railing against President Barack Obama's Asia policy, experts and members of the House expressed high hopes Tuesday on President-elect Donald Trump's apparent plans for a shake-up.
The hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific comes on the heels of Trump’s break with four decades of U.S. policy on Taiwan when he accepted a 10-minute call on Friday from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., praised Trump's America-first policy at the hearing, echoing his reaction Monday on Fox News that the phone call was "terrific.”
"Our goal has been to hopefully make things better for the United States of America,” Rohrabacher told the committee. “Some people think our goal is to focus on making it a better world. That certainly is something positive.”
Rohrabacher added, however, that the perception “of what's good for the whole world is not necessarily what's good for the United States of America."
The call between Trump and Ing-wen rattled China, which views the island as a rebellious province and claims sovereignty over it. China and Taiwan, which functions like an independent state, split after the communists prevailed in the Chinese civil war.
Ing-wen, 60, became Taiwan's first female president in May as a member of the Democratic Progressive party, which supports Taiwan's independence.
Though China lodged an official complaint with the United States about the Trump call, sending shock-waves through diplomatic circles, the 2049 Institute’s Kelly Currie scoffed at the "apoplectic pearl-clutching” that ensued.
"The manner in which we have allowed diplomatic fictions - such as those that control our engagement with the democratically elected government in Taiwan - to dictate key aspects of U.S. foreign policy is both fundamentally absurd and ultimately counterproductive," Currie, a senior fellow with the institute, told the committee Tuesday.
"I personally welcome some fresh thinking about how we order our affairs in the region, particularly if it does not involve reflexive genuflections to avoid tantrums by Beijing’s unelected dictators," she added.
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Currie was part of a four-member panel of think-tank experts - all critical of President Obama's Asia policy - assembled by the subcommittee to assess the “pivot to Asia.”
During opening remarks, subcommittee chairman Rep. Matt Salmon called the surprise over the phone call an unnecessary distraction.
"The fact is that we are economically and militarily engaged with Taiwan as directed by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and a phone call between principles should not garner such outrage," said Salmon, an Arizona Republican who is retiring at the end of this year.
President Jimmy Carter signed the Taiwan Relations Act into law in 1980 after the U.S. established diplomatic ties with Beijing, and after he unilaterally annulled a defense treaty that had helped secure Taiwan from a Chinese invasion after the civil war.
The United States hasn't had official diplomatic relations with Taiwan since.
China meantime has become the world's second-strongest military power.