By Michael Rios
President Donald Trump has reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the “one China” policy following a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The White House said in a statement that President Trump had a lengthy and “cordial” conversation with his Chinese counterpart Thursday night. During the call, President Trump agreed to honor the “one China” policy, which recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China.
“Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest,” The White House said in the statement. “The phone call between President Trump and President Xi was extremely cordial, and both leaders extended best wishes to the people of each other’s countries.”
The reaffirmation of the policy has been applauded by China, which said the policy “is the political foundation for the China-US relationship,” and called it vital for the “healthy and steady growth of this relationship to firmly safeguard this political foundation.”
“We hope the US side will properly handle issues related to Taiwan in keeping with the one-China policy and the three joint communiqués between China and the US, to ensure that the larger picture of the relationship is free from interruptions,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang.
The White House’s official reaffirmation of the policy comes nearly two months after President Trump had a 10-minute conversation with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, in which the two discussed “the close economic, political, and security ties” that exist between the two, according to Trump’s transition team
The call had caused a diplomatic firestorm in China, which sees the self-governing island of Taiwan — often referred to as the Republic of China (ROC) — as a breakaway province of the mainland.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the call between Trump and Taiwan’s president was “just a small trick by Taiwan.”
Then-President-elect Trump defended the call, saying on Twitter that the Taiwanese president had called him to to congratulate him on winning the presidency.
The United State officially severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 but has maintained unofficial relations with the island since.
The White House’s reaffirmation of the ‘one China’ policy came just days after a task force on U.S.-China relations released a set of recommendations designed to help the new administration create a China policy that would advance U.S. national interests.
The task force warned that if the White House abandoned the “one China” policy, Taiwan’s vulnerabilities would increase. According to the task force, the policy has not only served as the basis for U.S.-China relations; it has also helped protect Taiwan’s security, prosperity, and democracy.
The White House also announced on Thursday that that Trump had sent a letter to President Xi, expressing hopes for a “constructive relationship,” and that the two leaders extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.
The series of announcements were made one day before the U.S. hosted Japanese Prime Minister Abe at the White House.