By Mahita Gajanan
December 4, 2016

Mike Pence said there was nothing to read into regarding Donald Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, calling the conversation a “courtesy call” on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“She reached out to the President-elect, and he took the call from the democratically elected leader of Taiwan,” Pence told host Chuck Todd, noting the call on Friday was one of more than 50 Trump has held with world leaders since winning the election.

The leaders of the U.S. and Taiwan have not spoken directly since 1979, when the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Beijing. The diplomatic community was stunned by the call, but Trump has downplayed it, noting that the U.S. sells Taiwan military equipment.

The phone call between Trump and the President of Taiwan angered China, whose Foreign Minister called the move a “small trick by Taiwan,” according to Hong Kong–based Phoenix TV. Pence said the Chinese government had no reason for concern, and that Trump’s transition team would probably not reach out to officials there to calm the diplomatic waters.

“The waters here seem like a little bit of a tempest in a teapot,” Pence said, later adding, “I think most Americans and frankly most leaders around the world know this for what it was. And it’s all part and parcel. I think you’re going to see in a President Donald Trump a willingness to engage the world but engage the world on America’s terms.”

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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