Washington: US President Donald Trump assured Beijing on Thursday that he would honor the "One-China" policy followed by Washington since the 1970s, dialing down a major source of tension with a growing American adversary.
Amid increasing concern in sections of the U.S commentariat that the new President had pro-actively antagonized Beijing during his campaign, the White House announced that following up his letter to President Xi on Wednesday, Trump phoned him and ''discussed numerous topics, and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our One China policy.''
The White House statement seemed to suggest that China extracted public affirmation of the One-China policy from Trump after the U.S President had upset China by talking up a congratulatory phone call he took from the President of Taiwan (which China regards as a breakaway province) soon after his election victory, and suggested that he intended to use the One-China policy as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from Beijing.
The Chinese side confirmed the development, saying Trump had ''stressed that he fully understood the great importance for the U.S. government to respect the One China policy.''
China had reportedly declined to entertain a phone call from Trump unless he publicly affirmed the One-China policy, which came into existence in 1972 after Nixon's outreach to Beijing, and was formally adopted in 1979 when United States switched its diplomatic recognition from the Taiwanese Republic of China (ROC) to the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Although U.S-China ties have turned tetchy lately, at least three U.S Presidents before Trump embraced Beijing first before concluding that while it had to be engaged economically, it could be contained strategically. In contrast, Trump began on a confrontational note, hectoring Beijing on both fronts.
Trump irked Beijing with withering criticism of its trade and monetary practices, at one time advocating stiff tariffs on Chinese imports to U.S and questioning its attempts to dominate the South China Sea.