Beijing: A triumphant China on Friday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s climbdown on the ‘One China’ policy during his telephonic call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping but parried questions on whether his change of stand was part of any concessions made by Beijing.
“One China principle is the political foundation of China-US relationship and to uphold it and abide by it based on previous communiques between the two countries is the obligation of the US government. It is also the long standing position held by China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Lu Kang, told media soon after Trump and Xi’s conversation.
“In the telephone call President Trump said they are committed to ‘One China’ principle we appreciated that,” Lu said answering a spate of questions on the policy that states that Taiwan is a part of China.
The White House statement after Trump-Xi first phone talks said, “President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our ‘One China’ policy”.
Trump, after his election, had stated that the ‘One China’ policy on Taiwan is up for negotiation and that he is not fully committed to it.
While Trump’s U-turn on ‘One China’ policy, his first major diplomatic climbdown after he took over on January 20 is being projected by China as a major victory for Xi who has emerged as China’s most powerful leader in recent times, speculation is also rife whether Trump extracted any concessions from Beijing.
China had hit back saying ‘One-China’ policy which stipulates that Taiwan is part of Chinese mainland is “non-negotiable”.
However, a Chinese official statement struck a different note saying “besides, Trump said he fully understands the high significance of the US government’s pursuit of the ‘One China’ policy, adding that the US government adheres to the ‘One China’ policy”.
“Xi said he appreciated Trump’s stressing that the US government adheres to the One China policy, adding that the policy is the political basis of China-US relations,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
Parrying questions on any understanding, Lu said the first telephone conversation between the two leaders was made after high level consultations between the two countries.
Observers say that the first phone call from Trump which came after he spoke to 18 world leaders may have been delayed due to both countries negotiating on how to handle the ‘One China’ policy hurdle because China said it is non-negotiable and Xi’s political image would have suffered if he had spoken to Trump after US leader’s strong statements on Taiwan.
Trump is also the first US political leader who spoke to Taiwanese President Tsai-Ing-wen after his election whichriled China.
Asked whether China has made any concession for Trump to climb down from his earlier said he would renegotiate one china principle, Lu said “from the phone call between the two president you can see that President Trump has already expressed the American government’s commitment for the ‘One China’ policy. We appreciated that,” he said.
Lu also declined to go into details whether the consultation process required that Trump should make such a statement.
“We will not make comment on hypothetical questions. As for One China policy,” he said, adding that ever since China and the US established diplomatic relations it served as the basis for the relationship.
He also skirted questions whether two sides discussed the disputed South China Sea over which Trump and his administration officials made strong comments, saying that
Chinese naval ships should be stopped from accessing the artificial islands.
Nor he confirmed any talks on Trumps assertion earlier to hike tariffs on Chinese goods and allegations of China indulging in currency manipulation.
The Chinese statement said Trump and Xii their first phone conversation pledged to boost win-win cooperation in a variety of areas and develop a constructive China-US relationship.
Xi congratulated Trump on being inaugurated as US President and thanked him for sending a letter on Wednesday to extend his holiday greetings to the Chinese people, who are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rooster — and the upcoming Lantern Festival.
Xi said he greatly appreciated Trump’s willingness to expand China-US cooperation and develop a constructive bilateral relationship that will benefit the two countries and the international community.
China and the US have maintained close communication on issues of common concern since Trump’s inauguration, Xi noted, saying that the necessity and urgency of strengthening China-US cooperation is further increased in the face of the current complicated international situation and various challenges.
The development of China and the US can complement each other and promote each other, and the two countries are totally capable of becoming good cooperative partners, he said.
Xi said that building a sound China-US relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and it is also the responsibility China and the United States need to assume as the world’s major countries.
China is ready to boost mutually beneficial cooperation with the US in various fields such as trade and economy, investment, science and technology, energy, culture and infrastructure, he said.
Trump expressed his satisfaction with the close communication the two sides have maintained since he took office and admiration toward the Chinese people for the historic accomplishment they have achieved in developing their country, it said.
Developing US-China ties has won wide support from the US people, Trump said, adding that the two countries, as cooperative partners, can make joint efforts to help the bilateral relationship reach an unprecedented level.
The US is committed to enhancing win-win cooperation with China in economy, trade, investment and international affairs, Trump said, it said.