Trump changes tack, backs ‘one China’ policy in call with Xi
BEIJING/WASHINGTON – ReutersU.S. President Donald Trump changed tack and agreed to honor the “one China” policy during a phone call with China’s leader Xi Jinping, a major diplomatic boost for Beijing which brooks no criticism of its claim to self-ruled Taiwan.
Trump angered Beijing in December by talking to the president of Taiwan and saying the United States did not have to stick to the policy, under which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.
A White House statement said Trump and Chinese President Xi had a lengthy phone conversation on the night of Feb. 9, Washington time.
“President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the statement said.
A spokesman for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a statement it was in Taiwan’s interest to maintain good relations with the United States and China.
The U.S. and Chinese 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 an acrimonious 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.
“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 carried by China’s Foreign Ministry, 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 quoted 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.