US-China bonhomie: Trump rejects Taiwanese president's suggestion of phone call
US President Donald Trump has rejected Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's suggestion that the two leaders speak again on the phone. Trump said he didn't want to create problems for Chinese President Jinping especially when the country is supposedly making an effort to rein in North Korea. Taiwan's status as a self-ruled territory has for long been a sensitive subject between China and the US.
In Dec'16, breaking a decades-long diplomatic tradition, the then US President-elect Trump spoke with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, irking China. It is unprecedented for a President or President-elect of the US to directly talk to a leader of Taiwan, a self-governing country with which the US broke diplomatic-ties in 1979. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it was "just a small trick by Taiwan."
Again in Dec'16, in a sign of a significant step away from four decades of US foreign policy, Donald Trump said he did not have to stick to the "One-China" policy. Speaking to Fox News, Trump said "I don't know why we have to be bound by a 'One China' policy." The statement would likely to have significant effects of Sino-US ties.
Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and claims its Chinese territory under its "one China" policy. China has for decades opposed Taiwan's self-rule and has attempted to internationally isolate it by making other countries accept the "One China" policy. Democratic Taiwan opposes autocratic China's rule.
As president-elect, Trump's decision to take a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan's Tsai angered China. Trump had also cast doubts over the US' recognition of the One China policy. In February, Trump agreed to honor the policy and reaffirmed this when he hosted Xi in the US earlier this month. US-China ties have improved since the Trump-Xi meeting.
"Look, my problem is I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi," Trump said while justifying why he can't speak to Tsai. He said Xi is "doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation," in a reference to North Korea. "So I wouldn't want to be causing difficulty right now for him," he added.
Trump's decision to rebuff Tsai's suggestion indicates the importance he's placing on getting China to help diffuse tensions with North Korea. The North's nuclear and missile program appears to have become Trump's biggest national security challenge, since he took office in January.