Why President Trump's tough talk on China hasn't changed a thing

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President Donald Trump reaffirmed Washington's "One China" policy on Thursday in his first conversation with Xi Jinping, in an apparent effort to ease tensions after angering Beijing by questioning the policy that underpins Sino-US relations.

Speculation has simmered in China about how Trump might back up his tough talk, with observers noting that since his January 20 inauguration, Trump has spoken to more than a dozen foreign leaders but not Xi.

The telephone conversation on Thursday night was the first between the two since Mr Trump took office on 20 January, though the new United States president has called several other national leaders.

Beijing, for its part, says the Taiwan issue is a core national interest and the foundation of the US-China relationship, and that it is categorically not up for debate.

US officials said the affirmation of the "one China" policy was an effort to get the relationship back on track and moving forward.

In December, Trump had told Fox News, "I fully understand the "one China" policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a "one China" policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade".

The policybegan in 1979, when the United States under President Jimmy Carter first established a diplomatic relationship with China and severed its then-official relationship with Taiwan.

A White House statement said Mr. Trump and President Xi spoke at length on the phone on Thursday night. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

According to the White House, Trump and Xi discussed "numerous topics", and Trump committed to honoring the "one China" policy at Xi's request after having suggested in December that US backing for the policy might be contingent on a trade deal with Beijing. However, this may also be an example of Trump listening to the advice of his cabinet, especially that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who took a markedly different position than Trump on U.S. "And the United States side understandsclearly China's position", Lu said.

During the call on Friday, the two leaders also agreed to keep close contact and said they expected to meet each other at an early date, China Central Television reported.

Trump's backing of the policy marks a change. In doing so, he became the first sitting USA president-elect or president to open direct lines of communication with Taiwanese leaders since the 1979 change in diplomatic relations.

He raised eyebrows in the wake of his election victory with a protocol-busting telephone conversation with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

China lodged a formal complaint with the USA after that comment, but now it appears the presidents are putting their differences aside.

"Everything is under negotiation, including 'one China, '" hetold the Wall Street Journal. The Lantern Festival will be celebrated Saturday.