Trump agrees to honour ‘One China’ policy despite threats

US President Donald Trump has climbed down on past threats and agreed to honour the so-called ‘One China’ policy.

He backed the long-standing agreement during a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the White House said. The One China policy states that there is only one Chinese government. Trump broke diplomatic norms in December, by accepting a call from the President of Taiwan considered a breakaway province by China. As president-elect, Trump also said he saw no reason why the agreement should continue without key concessions from Beijing.

China retaliated to the Taiwan phone call by making an official complaint to the US. The telephone conversation on Thursday night was the first between the two since Trump took office on 20 January, though the new US president has called several other national leaders.

On Friday, Mr Trump said the conversation was “very warm”.

He added: “We had a very, very good talk last night, and discussed a lot of subjects. It was a long talk.”

He made the comments during a press conference at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The White House said a wide range of issues were discussed during the US-China call, which it characterised as “extremely cordial”. The two leaders had invited each other to visit, it said. A statement from Beijing said China appreciated Mr Trump’s acknowledgement of the One China policy, calling the two nations “co-operative partners” who could “push bilateral relations to a historic new high” Taiwan, meanwhile, said it would continue “close contact” with the US, pointing out that maintaining good ties with Washington and Beijing was key to regional stability.

What was at stake?

Mr Trump has caused concern in Beijing with his stance on trade and the South China Sea, but it was his decision to accept a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen that triggered most alarm.

Though the US is Taiwan’s main military ally, no US president or president-elect had spoken directly to a Taiwanese leader for decades.

Under the One China policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than Taiwan.

Trump has indicated that the policy could change, suggesting the US should not abide by One China unless it secured concessions from Beijing on trade. -BBC

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