Trump Calls Xi in Support of "One China" Policy

By Mei Manuel, February 10, 2017 15:02 PM

Donald Trump(Slate)

U.S. President Donald Trump has changed his sentiments regarding the "one China" policy and has agreed to honor it while speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump angered Beijing in December by talking to the president of self-ruled Taiwan and saying the United States did not have to stick to the policy. Under the longstanding policy, Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it as a province.

A White House statement said Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a lengthy phone conversation on Thursday night regarding various issues, including the "one China" policy.

"President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our 'one China' policy," the statement said.

The two leaders had not spoken by telephone since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing say China had been nervous about Xi being left humiliated in the event a call with Trump went wrong and the details were leaked to the media.

Last week, U.S. ties with staunch ally Australia became strained after the Washington Post published details about a bitter phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

No issue is more sensitive to Beijing than Taiwan. China and the United States also signaled that with the "one China" issue resolved, they could have more normal relations and strengthen it.

"Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest," the statement said.

In a separate statement read out on Chinese state television, Xi said China appreciated Trump's upholding of the "one China" policy.

"I believe that the United States and China are cooperative partners, and through joint efforts we can push bilateral relations to a historic new high," the statement cited Xi as saying.

"The development of China and the United States absolutely can complement each other and advance together. Both sides absolutely can become very good cooperative partners," Xi said.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but the country is also Taiwan's biggest ally and arms supplier and bound by legislation to provide the means to help the island defend itself.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communist forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule despite the island having its own government by force if necessary and stressed it strongly in recent years.

According to the statement from Xi, China wants cooperation with the United States on issues such as trade, investment, technology, energy and infrastructure, as well as strengthening coordination on international matters to jointly protect global peace and stability.

The White House described the call, which came hours before Trump plays host to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as "extremely cordial" with both leaders expressing best wishes to their peoples.

China has repeatedly said it has smooth contacts with the Trump team, led by China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

Yang told Michael Flynn, Trump's National Security Advisor, last week that China hopes it can work with the United States to control disputes and sensitive problems.

There was little or no mention in either the Chinese or U.S. statement of other contentious issues - trade and the disputed South China Sea - and neither matter has gone away.

On Thursday, one U.S. official told Reuters that a U.S. Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea, though the Navy believes the incident was accidental.

On Friday, China reported an initial trade surplus of $51.35 billion for January with more than $21 billion of it coming from the United States.

The state-run Global Times newspaper said China was likely to increase the quota of imported films allowed into the country which would be a great plus for the Hollywood filmmakers hoping to enter the Chinese market.

The newspaper, citing experts, predicted that around a dozen films could be added to the current quota of 34 imported movies, while foreign producers would get closer to the 40 percent of ticket revenues they receive in other international markets.

Trump broke the ice with Xi earlier in the week in a letter offering belated greetings for last month's Lunar New Year, a move broadly praised by Chinese state media as a positive sign.

In a front page commentary, the overseas edition of China's People's Daily said the letter was an opening to help manage friction.

"There's a saying in China - good food is worth waiting for."


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