Contrary to claims, Trump has shown diplomatic wisdom
US President Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for stating in a “lengthy” and “extremely cordial” phone talk with President Xi Jinping last week that he would honor the one-China policy. He was mocked and criticized for “backing away from a fight” and “blinking first”.
His critics seem anxious to stir up trouble between the world’s two largest economies.
What Trump did is simply correcting a mistake he made in the past few months, when he spoke on the phone with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen in early December, when he told Fox News a few days later that “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” and when he told the Wall Street Journal in January that “everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China’ ”.
Such a departure from the diplomatic protocol of China-US relations naturally drew strong protests from China, and rebukes from many in the United States, including ironically some who later chided him for his about-face.
Zhicuo nenggai, shan modayan is a Chinese proverb from a story about China’s Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) more than 2,000 years ago, which is equivalent to the Western saying of “A fault confessed is half redressed.”
But as long as the Trump administration discards the zero-sum mentality, and works with China to expand cooperation and manage disagreements, it might be a worthwhile bet.