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Trump endorses ’One China’ policy in phone call with Xi Jinping

Monday,Feb 13, 2017

From: Los Angeles Times

A newsstand in Shanghai bears an ad for a magazine featuring Donald Trump on the cover. (Johannes Eisele / AFP-Getty Images)


President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone on Thursday for the first time since Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, marking a significant de-escalation in the White House’s aggressive posture toward the world’s second-largest economy.

Trump told Xi that he would honor the "One China" policy, according to a Thursday statement by the White House Press Office, referring to a diplomatic understanding that the U.S. will not challenge Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing views as a breakaway province.

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ’One China’ policy,” 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 others’ countries,” the statement added. “They also extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.”

Trump spoke with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2, soon after his election win, breaking with decades of diplomatic precedent and drawing a harsh rebuke from China’s foreign ministry. No U.S. president or president-elect is believed to have spoken directly with a Taiwanese leader since the U.S. recognized the mainland government and cut ties with Taiwan in 1979.

According to a summary of the call by China’s official New China News Agency, Xi spoke in florid diplomatic rhetoric; he told Trump that “China will work with the United States to enhance communication and cooperation so that bilateral ties can advance in a sound and stable manner and yield more fruits to benefit the two peoples and people of all countries in the world.”

Trump told Xi he was “very happy” to speak, the agency reported, adding that he praised the “historic achievements” of China’s development. Trump said that developing the China-U.S. relationship has the “broad support of the American people,” the agency added.

Though Trump has spoken by phone with more than a dozen other world leaders since his Jan. 20 inauguration, his only conversation with Xi took place in November, a week after the election.

Trump has accused China of manipulating its currency, supporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, economically “raping” the U.S. and creating “the concept of global warming” as a hoax to undercut U.S. manufacturing. During his campaign, he advocated a 45% tariff on Chinese exports to the U.S.

Trump’s top advisor on trade is Peter Navarro, a hawkish business professor at UC Irvine who directed a documentary called “Death by China.” And his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that China should be denied access to artificial islands that it built in contested waters of the South China Sea.

Yet the Trump administration has markedly softened its tone since the campaign and the transition period.

In a phone call last week with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn “noted that the U.S. government is committed to developing strong U.S,-China relations,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, attended a Chinese Lunar New Year event at China’s embassy in Washington last week and shook hands with Ambassador Cui Tiankai. Her husband, Jared Kushner — one of Trump’s top advisors — met with Cui before the event.

And this week in Tokyo, Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, said that issues in the South China Sea would be “best solved by the diplomats.”

On Wednesday, Trump sent Xi a letter wishing “the Chinese people a happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster.”

“The letter is the kind of standard language and protocol prepared for any new president,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, who was a National Security Council China director under Presidents Bush and Obama. “The timing might be linked to Tillerson’s confirmation last week,” he said, referring to newly confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“My guess is that Tillerson is now making his own round of phone calls and meetings with ambassadors and foreign leaders,” he said.

Wang Huiyao, president of the Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG), said that Trump’s administration likely faced a rude awakening about the complexities of the U.S.-China relationship after his inauguration.

“I think Trump is more informed as a president now than when he was a candidate,” he said, “so he realized that this agreement the U.S. and China made before cannot be easily broken.”

 

From Los Angeles Times,2017-2-9

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