Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen initiated the phone call with Donald Trump, but Bob Dole was the architect. As a lobbyist for law firm Alston & Bird—to which the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US paid $140,000 from May to October—the former Republican senator worked for six months to help Taiwan buddy up to Trump, reports UPI. That included arranging meetings between Trump staff and Taiwanese emissaries and getting Taiwan's delegation into the Republican National Convention, reports Politico, based on a lobbying disclosure document. "It's fair to say that we may have had some influence," Dole tells the Wall Street Journal, while a Trump official also says the phone call was arranged by Dole.
The consequences of such a call, which infuriated China, are still being felt. Ing-wen is scheduled to fly through the US in January, and though advisers say Trump won't meet with her, China hopes the US "does not allow her transit, and does not send any wrong signals to 'Taiwan independence' forces," the foreign ministry tells Reuters. The State Department, however, says allowing Taiwanese leaders to travel through the US is a "long-standing US practice," per the Guardian. Trump has followed up the phone call by bashing China's taxing of US imports and actions in the South China Sea on Twitter, raising fears that Beijing will respond by escalating its military presence in the South China Sea, refusing to obey UN sanctions against North Korea, or with cyberattacks.