President Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since taking over the White House late Thursday, agreeing to honor America’s long-standing “One China” policy.
The White House, which described the conversation as “extremely cordial,” said Trump will honor Jinping’s request that requires the U.S. to maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan, China’s rival. The White House also added that both Trump and Jinping extended invitations to meet in their respective countries and looked forward to future conversations.
The phone call may alleviate concerns that Washington is intent on shifting its relationship with Beijing. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.
Following his election win in November, Trump riled up U.S.-China relations after taking a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen. Describing the conversation with Trump as “a way for us to express our respect for the U.S. election,” Ing-wen told USA TODAY that the call did not signal a change in policy.
After accepting the congratulatory call, Trump said he would not be bound by the “One China” policy that has underpinned U.S.-China relations since the 1970s. When Beijing complained about the conversation with Taiwan, Trump criticized China for devaluing its currency to hurt U.S. imports and building “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.”
The U.S. has accepted the “One China” policy since then-President Nixon visited the country in 1972. President Jimmy Carter recognized the government in Beijing as legitimate in 1978.
Taiwan maintains a de facto embassy in Washington, D.C., under the pretense of an economic and cultural representative office located at its former Republic of China ambassadorial residence, Twin Oaks.
Contributing: David Jackson and Donna Leinwand Leger
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