Trump tells Xi Jinping he will honour ‘One China’ policy

White House confirms phone call between two leaders was ‘extremely cordial’

US president Donald Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone overnight. Photograph: EPA

US president Donald Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone overnight. Photograph: EPA

 

US president Donald Trump has allayed fears of tense relations with Beijing after he told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a phone call that he would honour the “One China” policy on self-ruled Taiwan, despite earlier calling the longstanding position into question.

Following up on Thursday’s letter with a lengthy phone call on Friday, Mr Trump “agreed to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and economy, investment as well as international affairs,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

The agency also quoted Mr Xi saying he “appreciated” Mr Trump for “stressing that the US government adheres to the One China policy,” which stresses there is only one China and that Taiwan is a province of that entity.

In their first phone call since Mr Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, the two leaders also agreed to “keep close contact with each other, and to exchange views in a timely manner on issues of common concern”, Xinhua reported.

Under the One China policy, Washington has diplomatic ties with mainland China and does not recognise Taiwan as a country, while maintaining good relations.

The One China policy is the basis for diplomatic recognition by China of all countries, including Ireland.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV ran comments from Mr Xi in which he said “extremely complicated global situation and rising challenges” meant there was a greater need for enhanced cooperation between China and the US.

“I believe that the United States and China are cooperative partners, and through joint efforts we can push bilateral relations to a historic new high,” Mr Xi said.

Mr Trump had earlier angered Beijing when he took a congratulatory call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, whom China considers independence-minded.

The issue, along with Mr Trump’s aggressive comments on trade issues and on China’s controversial claims to most of the South China Sea, had threatened to badly undermine relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since the Nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing the Civil War and since then Beijing has stressed that it sees Taiwan as sovereign territory and one that should be returned to the fold at some point, by force if necessary.

There had been intense speculation about when the phone call would actually take place, as Beijing was on its guard after Mr Trump’s ill-tempered phone call last week with Australian premier Malcolm Turnbull.

The readout from the White House largely confirmed what the Chinese version said, although the language was slightly different.

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our One China policy,” it said, describing the call as “extremely cordial”.

Both leaders extended invitations to meet in their respective countries.

“President Trump and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes,” it said.

The call came hours before Mr Trump was scheduled to host Shinzo Abe, premier of China’s regional arch-rival Japan.