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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Asia & Pacific
Trump agrees to honor one-China policy in call to Xi Jinping

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Jim Lo Scalzo/Filip Singer/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker – The Wahington Post – February 10, 2017

BEIJING — President Trump held a lengthy, “extremely cordial” telephone conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping late on Thursday evening in Washington, and — in a move set to ease tensions between the two nations — agreed to honor the one-China policy, the White House said in a statement.

The one-China policy forms the bedrock of U.S.-China diplomatic ties, established by President Richard Nixon and China’s leader Mao Zedong. It rules out independence and diplomatic recognition for the island of Taiwan.

But Trump has publicly called U.S. adherence to this policy into question, suggesting he would only commit to it once he evaluates China’s progress in addressing trade and currency concerns.

In response, China insisted the policy was highly sensitive and “nonnegotiable.”

The United States maintains a military relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province, but closed its embassy there in 1979.

What is the One China policy, and why is Beijing so infuriated with Trump? Play Video3:03
China has expressed “serious concern” after President-elect Donald Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy unless it could “make a deal,” potentially on U.S.-China trade. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the White House statement said.

Representatives from both countries will engage in “discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

“The phone call between President Trump and President Xi was extremely cordial, and both leaders extended best wishes to the people of each other’s countries,” it added.

“They also extended invitations to meet in their respective countries. President Trump and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes.”

The phone call came on the eve of a formal summit between Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set to take place in Washington on Friday.

Japan is a historic enemy of China and a key modern-day strategic rival.

In December, following his election and before his transition, Trump made waves with a protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen.

It was the first communication between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 and the product of months of preparation by Trump’s advisers, who advocated for a new strategy of engagement with Taiwan to rattle China.


As expected, China reacted sternly, but Trump publicly questioned whether the one- China policy was in America’s best interests.


He fired off provocative tweets about the Chinese — on currency manipulation, imports from the United States and its military buildup in the South China Sea.


Trump told the Wall Street Journal in a January interview, shortly before his inauguration, that he was open to shifting U.S. policy on China and Taiwan.

“Everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China,’?” Trump told the newspaper.

The phone call to Xi came a day after Trump sent a letter wishing China a “prosperous Year of the Rooster” — which was sent 11 days after China celebrated its Lunar New Year festival.

The White House issued a statement saying Trump had “provided a letter” to Xi on Wednesday, thanking the Chinese leader for a congratulatory note he had sent on the U.S. president’s inauguration.

Trump wished the Chinese people a “happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster” and said “he looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China,” according to the statement.

China celebrated its Lunar New Year on Jan. 28, and the lack of a customary new year’s greeting from the U.S. president at that time was noticed here. The Lantern Festival will be celebrated on Saturday.

Rucker reported from Washington.

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