Washington D.C. (GPA) – In a reversal of his previous statements, Donald Trump has reversed his thinking on ending the ‘One China’ after a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump may be evolving on the plausibility of one of his largest campaign promises, the idea of ‘getting tough’ with China. It seems that there may be some level of a reset with Beijing following Trump’s long awaited call with Xi Jinping, which followed a letter sent to the Chinese president.
US, China and Taiwan See Call With Xi as Positive
The White House issued a statement following the phone call that seems to imply Trump is more open than before on maintaining regular relations with China. Most important, according to the statement is that now “President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy.”
This comes after Trump’s controversial December phone call with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan which was considered a major geopolitical gaffe by western media. Most analysts felt that official recognition of Taiwan meant that Trump was somehow acknowledging the small territory as a separate entity from China.
China considers Taiwan to be a rogue province and the US acknowledges this through the ‘one China’ policy. ‘One China’ is the United States’ way of saying that, although they recognize the Taiwanese government, the country is still technically part of China as a whole.
Trump claims the call with president Tsai was just a quick call of congratulations but the media saw it as a huge mistake likely to anger China. Yet apparently nobody asked the Taiwanese leaders what it was about because they seem happy that Trump and Xi worked out the dispute in their phone call. A spokesman for President Tsai even said in a statement after the phone call that good relations between the US and China were good for Taiwan.
The Chinese, who have said they would invade Taiwan if it were to declare independence, also were pleased with the results of the call. In the statement issued by Beijing after the call they said they were pleased that Trump would uphold the ‘one China’ agreement. Xi was also quoted in the statement as saying that “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.”
Xi also said that he was confident the two superpowers can work together and that “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.”
Western Media Says Reversal is Lose-Lose for Trump
Of course since it was Trump who accepted the first phone call with Taiwan, brought up the ‘one China’ debate and then reversed his ideas after talking to Xi, the western media is still saying he dropped the ball.
Outlets like the New York Times and Reuters are already saying Trump never should have brought up changing ‘one China’ but now that he has averted unnecessary confrontation with China they’re shouting that he looks like a “paper tiger.”
Within hours of the Xi call, these outlets found every China analyst they could to come out and say that by dealing respectfully with China, Trump had shown he was weak and willing to back down. While to some extent it may be true that Trump walked into a debate he didn’t fully understand, it’s still better that he offered cooperation with China in the end instead of more escalation.
If Trump is willing to respect China as a global partner this would most likely have the best outcome for a lot of people in both countries and around the world. While he did make mistakes and misrepresent China on the campaign trail at least he’s learning some of the reality now that he’s in office and acting accordingly.