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Trump Bows to China

February 13, 2017
Plain English Version
President and Mrs. Nixon at the Great Wall of China in 1972.

President and Mrs. Nixon at the Great Wall of China in 1972.

“One China” is a policy honored by America. Donald Trump said he would not be bound by the One China Policy.

One China comes from a historic event of 44 years ago. Until then, the U.S. did not recognize “Red” China as the government of China. It said Taiwan was China. Taiwan sat as China in the United Nations.

This changed after President Richard Nixon went to China. The U.S. ended its ties with Taiwan. Red China became China. Taiwan is no longer in the U.N. China now sees Taiwan as a province of China. China is waiting for Taiwan to return to China. Meanwhile, Taiwan trades with both the U.S. and China.

Trump thought he could reset U.S./China relations. He thought, by disavowing One China, he would force China to see how tough he was. This strategy is from his “Art of the Deal” playbook. In sum: Act tough.

China shunned Trump since he became president. Last week Trump used the Chinese New Year to start his retreat. He had his National Security Advisor hand-deliver a letter to the Chinese Ambassador. The letter expressed Trump’s good wishes for the Chinese New Year.

President Xi Jinping would only take a call from Trump if Trump agreed to honor the One China policy. It was all worked out before Trump made the call.

Last Thursday, Trump talked on the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House said the Chinese president asked Trump to honor the One China policy. Trump said he would.

The U.S. agreed that Beijing was the seat of the Chinese government.

Rex Tillerson is the new Secretary of State. He has made it clear that relations with China are most important.

Trump has said harsh things about China. He said they devalued their currency. They tax the U.S. for services and products. The U.S. does not tax them. They are building their forces in the South China Sea. They are not helping resolve conflicts with North Korea.

It was tough talk. At the same time, cooler heads in both countries were working to get through the impasse. To make it happen, Trump had to reverse himself on the One China policy. Trump now has reversed himself. He said he would not be bound by the “One China” Policy. Now he says he will.

Source: The New York Times February 9, 2017

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