Donald Trump has held his first telephone conversation with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, since entering the White House, telling the Communist party leader he will not challenge Beijing by upending longstanding US policy towards Taiwan.
In a brief statement the White House said the leaders of the world’s two largest economies had held a “lengthy” and “extremely cordial” telephone call on Thursday evening in which “numerous topics” were discussed.
“President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘One China’ policy,” the White House said, referring to a diplomatic understanding by which Washington does not challenge China’s claim over Taiwan, a democratically ruled island that Beijing considers a breakaway province.
In a much lengthier account of the call Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said Xi had vowed to work with Trump’s administration to ensure relations could advance “in a sound and stable manner”.
“The two countries are totally capable of becoming good cooperative partners,” Xi was quoted as telling Trump.
“Trump said he was glad to talk over the phone with Xi,” Xinhua added, reporting that the two leaders had agreed to “keep close contact with each other” and to “strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and economy, investment as well as international affairs”.
“Both of them expressed their eagerness to hold a meeting at an early date,” Xinhua said.
Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters the two presidents were looking forward to meeting in person “at their earliest convenience”, with officials from both countries now working towards such a get-together. “China and the US need to cooperate, and can cooperate in many areas,” Lu said.
The cordial encounter follows an “unsafe” one on Wednesday in the South China Sea between a Chinese aircraft and a US Navy patrol plane. US Pacific Command spokesman Robert Shuford said on Friday the “interaction” between a Chinese KJ-200 early warning aircraft and a US Navy P-3C plane happened in international airspace but did not say what was regarded as unsafe.