President-elect Donald Trump has defended his controversial phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, stating on Twitter she "called me".

In a surprising move, Trump's transitional team said on 2 December he had spoken with Tsai, in a conversation that broke with democratic convention and could cause tension between the US and China.

A statement issued by Trump's transition team said: "President-elect Trump spoke with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, who offered her congratulations.

"During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming president of Taiwan earlier this year."

But following the suggestion Trump's phone call with Tsai would anger China, and given the US does not have any formal ties with Taiwan, the president-elect insisted the call had been instigated by Tsai.

In a series of Tweets, Trump wrote: "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!

"Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call."

The call, which has not yet been commented on by Beijing, prompted a spokesperson from the White House National Security Council to reiterate there are no plans to change US policy on issues between China and Taiwan.

"We remain firmly committed to our 'one China' policy," spokesman Ned Price told the Associated Press. "Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-strait relations."

The Taiwanese presidential office clarified the pair discussed closer relations between the US and Taiwan, but did not comment on who initiated the phone call.

"The (Taiwanese) president is looking forward to strengthening bilateral interactions and contacts as well as setting up closer cooperative relations," a statement from the office read.

"The president also told US President-elect Trump that she hopes the US will continue to support Taiwan's efforts in having more opportunities to participate in and contribute to international affairs in the future."