The White Housesays President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call Thursday night that the US would honor Washington's "one China" policy, which has been at the center of friction between the global powers since Trump's election.
In a phone call with China's leader, the US president agreed to "honor" a position that effectively acknowledges that Taiwan is not separate from China.
In their phone conversation Friday, the first since Trump took office in January, Xi and Trump pledged to boost win-win cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, investment and global affairs, and develop a constructive China-U.S. relationship.
Several areas of disagreement between the superpowers, including currency, trade, the South China Sea and North Korea, were not mentioned in public statements on Thursday's telephone conversation between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.
The White House called the phone discussion-which came on the eve of Trump's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-"extremely cordial", saying the leaders "look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes".
For the Chinese government, preserving One China wasn't just about diplomacy, but also about protecting its own legitimacy against nationalists always on the lookout for signs the country is being disrespected or bullied by the US.
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"Now that he is in office, he represents the government's views and, as such, he must emphasize the continuity of policies, such as the Taiwan issue and the "one China" issue", he added.
The quick shedding of oft-repeated stridency toward China could also demonstrate a powerful pragmatism by the political rookie, an indication he has an eye on other priorities such as China's unilateral island-building in the South China Sea.
The White House said earlier this week that Trump had sent a letter to Xi, weeks after receiving a letter of congratulations from the leader of the Asian giant.
After the switch, the US passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which pledges support, but not diplomatic ties, to the Taiwanese people.
The Trump administration needed to make a decision on the issue "in order to cooperate with China bilaterally, regionally and globally, and to protect its interests", he said.
Previous US leaders have followed China's lead in not recognising Taiwan as an independent nation. But Trump's change of tack may be seen by Beijing as a climbdown, said Tom Rafferty, the China Regional Manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit. In 2015, it summoned a senior US envoy in Beijing after the US State Department said it meant to sell Taipei two Perry-class frigates, Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and a range of other military equipment.
But when Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke in their first telephone call on February 9, the USA president seemed to steer clear of controversy and confrontation.
"Cooperation is the only right choice for China and the United States,"said Lu".
It is therefore highly likely that Trump opted to return to the "One China" principle after a rethinking about the relative priorities of the domestic and foreign policy agendas of his administration. "It is known to all that since President Trump took office, China and the US have been in close contact", said Lu Kang, the foreign ministry spokesman. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said China would "not comment on his personality", but rather his policies while in office.
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