President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call Thursday that he intends to honor the so-called "One China" policy, after earlier suggesting it was open for negotiation in comments that rankled Beijing, the White House said.
"The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our 'one China' policy," the statement said, which described the talks as "extremely cordial."
The "One China" policy is an agreement in which the United States recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government and ceased all diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province. The policy traces its roots back to 1972, when President Richard Nixon visited mainland China in order to initiate closer relations.
Trump after winning the presidential election broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy when he spoke by telephone with Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen. The United States has not had diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 1979.
Then in January, Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal was asked about the policy and replied: "Everything is under negotiation, including One China."
Beijing responded by declaring the policy "non-negotiable."
Trump's phone conversation with Xi comes a day after he sent a letter to the Chinese president, wishing "the Chinese people a happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster."
Trump has made a series of aggressive remarks about China, accusing the country of unfair trade practices and deliberately undervaluing its currency, criticizing its military build-up in the South China Seas and alleging that it is doing too little to pressure neighbor North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
State-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that "Chinese President Xi Jinping said he appreciated his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, for stressing that the U.S. government adheres to the one-China policy."