After sending Xi Jinping a letter yesterday, US President Donald Trump decided to follow up by finally give his Chinese counterpart a call earlier today leading to what would appear to be a refreshingly “extremely cordial” conversation.
During the call, Trump agreed to honor the “one China” policy, according to a White House statement, vowing to maintain the status quo he had previously threatened to shake up.
Prior to his inauguration, Trump infuriated China by speaking with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen over the phone, breaking with long-standing US diplomatic protocol. Later, the then president-elect doubled-down by stating that the “one China” policy was up for negotiation, seeming to forecast his intentions to use the policy as a bargaining chip to make a better deal with China over economic issues.
“I fully understand the “one China” policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a “one China” policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump said on Fox News Sunday in December.
In response, China warned that the “one China” policy was absolutely “non-negotiable” and any change in the status quo could “badly affect” US-China relations. The nationalistic tabloid the Global Times went one step further, threatening that if the “naive” Trump pulls back from the “one China” policy, then Beijing could “offer support, even military assistance to US foes.”
However, since his inauguration, Trump had remained conspicuously silent on the issue, leaving many to wonder what his China policy would actually look like now that he’s in office.
If his first phone call with Xi as US President is any indication, then President Trump would appear to be taking a much softer tone toward China than he did during his presidential campaign and directly following his election.
In a statement, the White House said that the leaders of the world’s two largest economies had held a “lengthy” and “extremely cordial” telephone call in which “numerous topics” were discussed.
The statement fails to mention if any of these topics dealt with issues that Trump frequently and loudly brought up during the campaign trail, such as China “manipulating” its currency, “stealing” American jobs, and generally “raping” America.
If not, then the two leaders will have plenty of time to talk over those issues in person. The White House said that they had each “extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.”
We can’t wait.
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