Trump sends a letter to Chinese President Xi. The letter said Trump is seeking a constructive relationship with China.
After a fiery start to his foreign policy overtures, Trump is gradually normalizing his approach to international diplomacy.
On the same day as relations with Mexico appeared to return to normal, following reports of an upcoming meeting between Rex Tillerson and his Mexican counterpart, and days ahead of the much anticipated summit with Japan’s PM Abe, Trump “broke the ice” with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a letter that marked the US president’s first direct communication with the Chinese leader since he took office, in which he said he looked forward to working with him to develop relations.
Trump thanked Xi for a congratulatory letter and wished the Chinese people a happy Year of the Rooster, according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer. “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 Wednesday night.
Still, while Trump has had phone calls with Vladimir Putin, Enrique Pena Nieto and Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he took office, some perceived the mere letter as a modest snub to the president of the world’s second biggest economy. Trump and Xi have yet to speak directly since Trump took office on Jan. 20, although they did talk soon after Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November.
Trump, who has spoken with more than a dozen heads of state since taking office, is scheduled to speak on Thursday with the leaders of Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.
China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded in his daily briefing by saying “we highly appreciate President Trump’s holiday greetings to President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people.” Asked whether it was a snub that Trump had held calls with many other world leaders as president, but not Xi, Lu said: “This kind of remark is meaningless.”
He reiterated that China and the U.S. had maintained “close communication” since Trump took office and that cooperation was the “only correct choice”. “China is willing to work with the United States in adhering to the principles of non-confrontation, mutual respect and mutual benefit to promote cooperation, control disputes, and on a healthy and stable foundation, promote greater development in China-U.S. ties,” Lu said.