Friday, February 10, 2017
Trump agrees to support 'One China' policy in Xi Jinping call
Donald Trump has held his first telephone conversation with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, since entering the White House, telling the Communist party leader he will not challenge Beijing by upending longstanding US policy towards Taiwan.
In a statement the White House said the leaders of the world’s two largest economies had held a “lengthy” and “extremely cordial” telephone call on Thursday evening in which “numerous topics” were discussed.
“President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘One China’ policy,” the White House said, referring to a diplomatic understanding by which Washington does not challenge China’s claim over Taiwan, a democratically ruled island that Beijing considers a breakaway province.
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said Xi had vowed to work with Trump’s administration to ensure relations could advance “in a sound and stable manner and yield more fruits to benefit the two peoples and people of all countries in the world”.
The two leaders agreed to “keep close contact with each other” and to “strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and economy, investment as well as international affairs,” Xinhua added.
China’s state broadcaster CCTV said Xi had “praised” Trump’s commitment over Taiwan.
Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters the two presidents were looking forward to meeting in person “at their earliest convenience”, with officials from both countries now working towards such a get-together. “China and the US need to cooperate, and can cooperate in many areas,” Lu said.
The cordial encounter follows an “unsafe” one on Wednesday in the South China Sea between a Chinese aircraft and a US Navy patrol plane. US Pacific Command spokesman Robert Shuford said on Friday the “interaction” between a Chinese KJ-200 early warning aircraft and a US Navy P-3C plane happened in international airspace but did not say what was regarded as unsafe.
Shuford said the US plane was on a routine mission and operating according to international law.
The Chinese defence ministry has not responded to a request by Associated Press for comment.
Following his shock election in November last year, Trump had infuriated and unnerved Beijing by questioning his administration’s commitment to that policy and holding an unprecedented phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.
On Tuesday some of the world’s leading China specialists had warned that already “precarious” ties between Beijing and Washington could be plunged into a dangerous new era, partly as a result of Trump’s rise to power.
Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China power project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington, said the long-awaited conversation between the two leaders, which had taken almost three weeks to arrange, would calm fears that US-China relations were on the verge of a damaging breakdown.
“I think the entire region will heave a sigh of relief here,” she said. “One hopes that what this understanding has achieved is to enable the US and China to head off a major crisis.”
Glaser said she believed China had been holding off arranging a phone call with Trump until it was convinced he would not seek to challenge Beijing over Taiwan.
“The Chinese were unwilling to have that conversation unless and until they were sure it would resolve this problem,” she said. “There has been ongoing discussion in the Trump administration over the last several weeks about what to do on this issue … It became clear that the relationship would be frozen in the absence of Trump taking a firm position.”
The White House statement said the two presidents had “extended invitations to meet in their respective countries” and that officials from both countries would now engage in “discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest”.
“President Trump and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes,” it added.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing mounted after Trump’s election, with the incoming president angering Beijing by hinting he was considering changing foreign policy on Taiwan unless trade concessions were made. Beijing warned Taiwan was a “non-negotiable” issue after the billionaire said “everything is under negotiation”.
Paul Haenle, a veteran US diplomat who is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Centre in Beijing, said he believed secretary of state Rex Tillerson had convinced Trump to pull back from his threats to ditch “One China”.
“Trump had been toying with the notion of trying to use it to get leverage with the Chinese but was convinced that it was in the US interests to abide by it … Trump was convinced, and rightly so, that the ‘One China’ policy is not something we do because it is good for Beijing. It is in America’s interests.
“It’s good news and a positive development for the relationship,” Haenle said of the call. “It will allow the US and China to get on to the more difficult issues that really need work such as trade, North Korea and the South China Sea.
“This will open the door now for the US and China to begin to develop the relationship that will allow them to tackle some of the more difficult and contentious issues.”
Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations from Shanghai’s Fudan University who had previously called on Beijing to close its embassy in Washington because of Trump’s threats, welcomed the White House’s concession to Xi.
“It is good for the two countries and the Asia-Pacific. Now we can have a predictable relationship.”
Had Trump followed through on threats to alter US policy on Taiwan he would have caused “big trouble”, he added. “Beijing must feel much relief at the message.”
Posted by wikisabah at 5:03:00 PM