While Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says that another phone call between herself and US President Donald Trump could take place again in the future, Trump isn’t so sure. He has to talk to his friend Xi about it first.
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Tsai said that she would not rule out speaking directly with Trump again, as she had last December in a phone call that enraged China. But in his own interview with Reuters, Trump swept aside the possibility that he and Tsai would reconnect, citing his “very good” relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the ongoing crisis in North Korea which he says that China is helping out with:
Look, my problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi. I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation.
So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him. I think he’s doing an amazing job as a leader and I wouldn’t want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So I would certainly want to speak to him first.
This is quite the shift in rhetoric from just five months ago when Trump infuriated China by receiving a congratulatory call from Tsai, breaking with long-standing US diplomatic protocol. Later on, 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 Beijing 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.
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
However, upon taking office, Trump changed his tune on the issue, agreeing to honor the “one China” policy during his first phone call with Xi in February, vowing to maintain the status quo he had previously threatened to shake up. At his first meeting with the Chinese president at his Mar-a-Lago resort earlier this month, the issue of Taiwan does not seem to have even come up.
Meanwhile, Trump has also used China’s help in the North Korea crisis to explain why the country is no longer a currency manipulator, despite calling China the “world champions” of currency manipulation just over a week before.
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