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CNN's Zakaria gives unexpected defense of Trump's Taiwan call

CNN's Zakaria gives unexpected defense of Trump's Taiwan call
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CNN's Fareed Zakaria says that President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE's call with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was "not a bad idea."

Zakaria — a staunch critic of Trump during the campaign — told CNN's Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo on "New Day" that "the substance of [the call], I think, people are getting a bit too critical."

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"The truth of the matter is we need leverage with China. China is a country that cooperates with the United States on many issues, but on many issues we need to be able to push them harder,” he said.

Zakaria warned, however, that the overture to Taiwan needs to be part of a broader, long-term approach in the region.

“The key here is that it should be part of a thought-through strategy,” Zakaria said.

Zakaria called Trump a "bullshit artist" and "a cancer on our democracy" in August regarding comments the Republican made about Russia and Ukraine.  

The call between Trump and Tsai was the first between a U.S. president or president-elect with any Taiwan leader since 1979, when diplomatic relations were broken off in accordance the one-China policy, which in effect forces countries to either recognize diplomatically the People's Republic of China, on the mainland, or the Republic of China, on Taiwan, but not both. The Chinese Communist Party views Taiwan as a breakaway province following the country's civil war, when the nationalist government retreated to the island.

The U.S. has continued to sell arms to Taiwan.

China has criticized Trump's call, registering a complaint with the White House. 

“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Other pundits have slammed Trump's call with Taiwan's president, most notably MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

“We don’t know if he did it on purpose or if he just bumbled into it,” Maddow said on her prime-time program on Friday night.

“Either way, this conceivably is the way wars start.”

A Monday CNBC headline declared that "Trump may have just thrown decades of US-China relations into disarray."

A Fox News Monday headline states "Trump remains on defensive after call with Taiwan president."