After previously floating the possibility of using the ‘one China’ policy as a bargaining chip to get better trade deals with Beijing, President Trump said Thursday that threat is off the table.
Trump agreed to honor the U.S.’s longstanding policy after a lengthy phone call Thursday evening with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our “one China” policy,” a statement from the White House said.
The one China policy had been a source of friction between the U.S. and China since Trump’s election in November. Trump had questioned Washington’s policy on Taiwan, which shifted diplomatic recognition from self-governing Taiwan to China in 1979. He said it was open to negotiation.
China bristled at the comments Trump made. Trump told The Wall Street Journal in January that “everything is under negotiation, including ‘one China.’” The interview indicated at the time that Trump intended to shake up the relationship between Washington and Beijing, particularly on Taiwan.
Beijing was initially rattled over Trump’s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect had publicly spoken to Taiwan’s leader in nearly four decades.
Trump then said in a television interview that he didn't feel "bound by a one China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."
The White House sought to ease tensions ahead of the call, with Trump sending Xi a letter Wednesday wishing the Chinese people a happy Lunar new year. His daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner also attended the Chinese Embassy’s New Year’s reception in D.C. last week.