A day after offering belated Chinese New Year greetings, President Trump gave Beijing something more substantial: his assurances that he respects America's long-standing "one China" policy and plans to adhere to it. Trump had his first conversation with China's President Xi Jinping late Thursday and the White House says it was an "extremely cordial" talk, the South China Morning Post reports. "The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy," the White House said in a statement. The policy, which the US has followed for decades, accepts Beijing's view that Taiwan is a part of China.
Trump infuriated China in December when, as president-elect, he spoke directly to Taiwan's president. Analysts say Trump appears to have adopted a more pragmatic approach, possibly because of the influence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The phone call is "good news and a positive development for the relationship," Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, tells the Guardian. "It will allow the US and China to get on to the more difficult issues that really need work, such as trade, North Korea, and the South China Sea." The AP reports that the US Pacific Command disclosed Friday that a Chinese aircraft and a US Navy patrol plane had an "unsafe" encounter over the South China Sea earlier in the week.