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BEIJING/ WASHINGTON, Feb 10( Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump changed tack and agreed to honor the “one China ” policy during a phone call with China’s leader Xi Jinping, a major diplomatic boost for Beijing which brooks no criticism of its claim to self-ruled Taiwan.
Trump raged Beijing in December by talking to the president of Taiwan and telling the United States did not have to stick to the policy, under which Washington recognise the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.
A White House statement told Trump and Chinese President Xi had a lengthy phone conversation on Thursday night, Washington time.
“President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy ,”,NNP, ” the statement said.
A spokesman for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a statement it was in Taiwan’s interest to maintain good relations with the United States and China.
The U.S. and Chinese leaders had not spoken by telephone since Trump took office on Jan. 20. Diplomatic sources in Beijing tell China had been nervous about Xi being left humiliated in the event a call with Trump went wrong and the details were leaked to the media.
Last week, U.S. ties with staunch ally Australia became strained after the Washington Post published details about an acrimonious telephone call between Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
No issue is more sensitive to Beijing than Taiwan. China and the United States also signalled that with the “one China ” issue resolved, they could have more normal relations.
“Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest ,”,JJ, ” the statement said.
In a separate statement be borne by China’s Foreign Ministry, Xi told China appreciated Trump’s upholding of the “one China ” policy.
“I believe that the United States and China are cooperative partners, and through joint efforts we can move bilateral relations to a historic new high ,”,NN, ” the statement quoted Xi as saying.
“The development of China and the United States absolutely can complement each other and advance together. Both sides absolutely can become very good cooperative partners ,”,VBP, ” Xi said.
Taiwan’s presidential office spokesman Alex Huang said in a statement that the island’s government and the United States “both preserve close contact and communication so as to keep a ‘zero accident’ approach ” to their relationship.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the “one China ” principle was the political basis of Sino-U.S. ties.
“Ensuring this political basis does not waver is vital for the healthy, stable development of China-U.S. relations ,”,VBP, ” Lu said.
“PAPER TIGER ”
Lawyer James Zimmerman, the former head of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, told Trump should have never raised the “one China ” policy in the first place.
“There is certainly a style of negotiating with the Chinese, but threats concerning fundamental, core interests are counterproductive from the get-go ,”,NN, ” he said in an email.
“The end outcome is that Trump merely confirmed to the world that he is a paper tiger, a ‘zhilaohu’- person that seems threatening but is wholly ineffectual and unable to belly a challenge .”
Jia Qingguo, dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University and who has advised the government on foreign policy, told Trump had created a lot of uncertainty but was now back on track.
“Trump has reassured people that he will be a responsible president ,”,NNP, ” he told Reuters. “…This is good news for China, because stable U.S.-China relations are good for China. Now we can do business .”
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but is also Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier and is bind by legislation to provide the means to help the island defend itself.
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