China

President Trump Stresses U.S. Support for One China Policy

Meanwhile, China's positioning itself as a champion of free trade and globalization in the Trump era.

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White House

President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping talked on the phone for the first time since Trump took office last month—Trump had spoken to about twenty world leaders before that as president, but had only communicated with Xi via letter after a brief November call. Chinese officials, too, were reticent about a phone call, particularly after discouraging reports of calls such as the one between Trump and Australia's prime minister.

Nevertheless, the Trump-Xi phone call went as well as the Chinese government could have expected. There were no reports of the call going off-script, and Trump re-iterated his support for the "One China" policy, which was far from clear before the call. The "One China" policy, which states that the U.S. recognizes that Chinese living on either side of the Taipei believe they are one China, and that Taiwan is a part of it. The policy was first articulated in 1972 when Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit Communist China.

In December, Trump took a high profile call from the president of Taiwan that had reportedly been weeks in the making. That call broke a decades-long precedent of U.S. presidents and presidents-elect not contacting the head of government of Taiwan as part of the "One China" policy, which Trump questioned in the fall out over the phone call.

Nevertheless, despite a loud outcry, particularly from the U.S. foreign policy establishment but also from China, the move appears ultimately to be of little consequence. The Chinese seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea. Trump, who was still president-elect, tweeted that they should keep it, after the Chinese government had already returned it. The Chinese government filed a diplomatic protest over Trump's comments but officials have avoided publicly calling for a more aggressive posture in retaliation.

Far more influential on China's overall posture appears to have been the decision by Trump to, as promised during the campaign, withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal between 12 Pacific countries that excluded China, part of President Obama's broader "Asia pivot," an effort to contain China. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP process. Some countries want to continue but Japan's prime minister called a deal without the U.S. "meaningless."

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos shortly before Trump's inauguration, China President Xi Jinping warned that globalization was not the cause of the problems the world faced. "We must remain committed to free trade and investment. We must promote trade and investment liberalization," he told the audience. "No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war." Shortly after Trump's inauguration, China's premiere, Li Keqiang, argued in a column in Bloomberg in favor of "economic openness" and offered China as an "anchor of stability and growth with its consistent message of support for reform, openness, and free trade."

For all its foreign policy faults, the U.S. has generally been an outspoken champion of free trade in the post-WW2 era, from which the U.S. and the rest of the world have benefited tremendously. That countries like China could step up in defense of free trade, no matter how purely rhetorical or self-serving that defense is, is still a testament to just how successful it has been in lifting the world out of poverty.

NEXT: Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four Describes the Authoritarian Left Better Than It Does Trump

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  1. , despite a loud outcry…. the move appears ultimately to be of little consequence

    People seem to grasp this well after the fact, but still have trouble applying it to current-events.

    1. It hasn’t even been a whole MONTH since he’s been president. There’s no way the left can keep up this level of OUTRAGEY OUTRAGEOUSNESS and eventually Soros will have other protests to fund elsewhere so the free buses and picket sign gravy train will stop.

      What then? What happens when everyone stops whining and has to go back to reality?

      1. They’ll manufacture new reasons to get up in arms, like their “general strike” on the 17th.

  2. One China – whose government is currently operating from the island of Taiwan.

    1. Yes, the Republic of China.

      1. Not the “””The People’s Republic of China “is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants,” and that the state organs “apply the principle of democratic centralism”””

        1. I was reading about the ROC and found it interesting and amusing that they actually claim more territory than the PRC does. Some little bits of India or something.

  3. So, what changed the Donald’s tone on this? I wonder who told him he needed to be a little more diplomatic?

    1. He can only juggle so many hot potatoes at once, can only maintain so many tweet threads at once. He decided Muslims are scarier than Chinese. Maybe Mexicans too. Then there’s the 9 circus judges.

      Too much to tweet. Sad!

  4. That countries like China could step up in defense of free trade […] is still a testament to just how successful it has been in lifting the world Party members out of poverty

    Amended to reflect China’s POV.

  5. Good alt-text badly implemented.

    1. Ah, nevermind, it’s reasonable doing that. I must now complain about this free plugin!

      So, good alt-text, K.

  6. That countries like China could step up in defense of free trade, no matter how purely rhetorical or self-serving that defense is, is still a testament to just how successful it has been in lifting the world out of poverty.

    No, it’s a testament to how Chicomm foreign propaganda caters to its audience. If the rest of the world was fascist, regardless of its success, the Chicomms would be screaming “look at us, we’re great fascists! We have labour camps and Gestapo and everything!”

  7. Ask anyone trying to take capital out of china just how free and open they are.

    1. There’s always potential violence when Shia is around. Usually it involves him getting his ass kicked by somebody he started a fight with.

      1. One of the rare instances of Shia violence not involving Sunnis.

  8. OH, and fuck the Chicoms and the One China policy. It’s basically arguing that Taiwan, regardless of what its people want, should eventually be swallowed up whole by the mainland. Like Tibet. And what separates it, really, from any of the other whacky territorial claims China makes? The entire argument behind the “One-China” policy is completely anti-libertarian.

    That countries like China could step up in defense of free trade, no matter how purely rhetorical or self-serving that defense is, is still a testament to just how successful it has been in lifting the world out of poverty.

    It’s also evidence of how the term “free trade” has been co-opted by people who want everything but actual free trade and markets.

    1. Yeah, “One China” ain’t working out so great for Hong Kong. Unless the Taiwanese overwhelmingly want to become part of the PRC, nobody should be pushing them in that direction.

    2. What other “Free Trade” companies had factory workers threatening to jump off the building? *looks at co-workers Apple products

      1. “Notable customers and products the company manufactures include BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, Nintendo 3DS, Nokia, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One.”

        But for some reason everyone latches on to Apple.

        1. Because Apple has the smuggest, most punchable face

          1. Nobody cared about that until they were rolling in sacks of gold.

        2. Not XBOX ONE! *Jumps off bridge in Halo 5(turns into ground pound and rekts some trolls underneath said bridge)

        3. I had hear that the suicides were really blown out of proportion too. 18 sounds like a lot, but they have something like 300,000 workers in Shenzhen and the suicide rate among the workers there was lower than that of China as a whole.

    3. The problem is Taiwan’s official position is that there is one China, just that they are the legitimate government. It woukd be easier if they just said that they are an independent state and be done with it. Especially since Taiwan’s historical political connection with China is not that strong.

      1. I believe the PRC overtly threatens war if Taiwan becomes completely and openly independent.

        1. Yeah, that’s the problem. Also why Hong Kong was returned.

  9. I am not in favor of the One China policy. I was actually glad Trump made that call to Taiwan, because I always felt contempt towards the Chinese government and sometimes they need to be put in their place. Hving said that, who are we foolin. If Obama did the same exact thing, people on the right would be all over it calling him a flip flopper. Or doesn’t know what he wants. I am over the outrage from both sides at this point. The same people crying hoarse over Shrillary’s ethics violations are pooh poohing any criticism of Trump’s ethics as a lot of fuss over nothing.

    1. The level of hysteria over Trump’s violations is way, way overblown compared to Hillary’s. She was selling out the entire nation to foreign countries for personal gain. Even assuming Trump ordered Conway to pimp his daughter’s clothing line on a morning talk show, I can’t see them as remotely comparable.

    2. Note: I write the above in full knowledge that Trump is an authoritarian and should be watched closely. But the colossal deference given to Obama compared with the hyper scrutiny of Trump by the mass media is sickening.

    3. It’s Realpolitik at its finest. There was no way Trump was not going to turn around and suck up to China.

  10. In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos shortly before Trump’s inauguration, China President Xi Jinping warned that globalization was not the cause of the problems the world faced. “We must remain committed to free trade and investment. We must promote trade and investment liberalization,” he told the audience. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

    Reminds me of Obama’s defenses of the free market.

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