Dialing Up Controversy with China

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On Thursday February 9th, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first phone call. Accounts from both sides described the call as productive and cordial. Most importantly for the future of the bilateral relationship, Trump affirmed U.S. recognition of the “One-China Policy,” reversing an uneasy start to diplomatic relations between the two countries and speculation that his administration would shift towards recognizing Taiwan. While the recognition of the “One-China Policy” opens the door to cooperative and peaceful relations, it has some believing Trump made a mistake in questioning the “One-China policy” and folded under pressure, leaving many questions unanswered on the strength of the U.S. position in future negotiations with Beijing.

With a single congratulatory phone call on December 2nd, 2016, then the President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen set off a wave of controversy over the future of cross-strait relations among Beijing, Taipei, and Washington. On the heels of lodging a formal complaint over the call, China followed up with a second complaint over a planned stopover in the U.S. by Tsai on her way to Central America in January. The episode highlights the U.S.’s decades long balancing act between China and Taiwan.

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