Donald Trump's 'worst call so far' with Malcolm Turnbull has China concerned

The president reportedly angered the Chinese government by accepting a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after winning the presidential election.

"President Trump stated that he looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China", Spicer said in a statement on Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the White House announced that Trump had affirmed the United States' commitment to the "One China" policy on his call with Xi.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday described the exchange as a "very good call".

During their phone conversation, Trump and Xi also agreed to cooperate in trade, investment and worldwide affairs, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Since taking office, Trump and members of his administration have been critical of China's actions in the South China Sea.

Despite Trump's confrontational image, Chinese internet users were warmed by a brief video clip of his granddaughter singing in Chinese that circulated on the web earlier this month.

The Six Assurances, issued by former USA president Ronald Reagan in 1982, include US pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China. In the post-WW2 era, this meant only relations with Taiwan, though in 1979, when China realigned against the Soviet Union, Jimmy Carter revised the policy to recognize mainland China as the "one China", cutting ties with Taiwan.

China wants cooperation with the U.S. on trade, investment, technology, energy and infrastructure, as well as strengthening coordination on worldwide matters to jointly protect global peace and stability, Xi said.

It was Trump's first phone call with Xi since coming into the White House.

In the February 8 letter to Xi, Trump also thanked Xi for his "congratulatory letter" on his inauguration, according to the White House.

When asked about whether he would adhere to the "One China" policy amid the controversy, Mr Trump trotted out his characteristic tough talk in an interview with conservative Fox News.

As a presidential candidate, Trump accused China of unfair trade practices and of undervaluing its currency. Taiwan's mainland affairs council, which handles affairs with mainland China, said that it hoped for continued US support and "pragmatic communication" with Beijing. That same year, the US established the Taiwan Relations Act, which sought "to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan". However, what is known is that Trump has antagonized China on several other counts, through and after the campaign trail.

The most populous country outside United Nations membership, Taiwan continued to claim to represent all of China until a constitutional amendment in 1991.

  • Carolyn Briggs