(CNN)When then US President-elect Donald Trump had a 10-minute conversation with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen in December 2016, he caused a huge diplomatic firestorm.
Though it’s not uncommon for an incoming leader of one government to speak with the sitting leader of another, Trump’s call with Tsai put the future of US relations with China and Beijng’s ties with Taipei temporarily on ice.
But it looks like Trump’s now making moves to smooth over any ruffled feathers.
In his first conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping since his inauguration, Trump reaffirmed the US’ commitment to the “One China” policy.
We take a look at what this is.
What is it?
Washington officially sticks to a “one China” policy, acknowledging Taiwan being part of China and the People’s Republic’s status as the sole legitimate government of China.
The policy forms the basis of Chinese diplomacy and policy-making and determines Sino-US relations.
Although the US embassy long ago moved to Beijing from Taipei — Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 — the island remains an important American ally in the region.
Despite strong protests from China, the United States continues to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan for its self-defense against a much bigger Chinese military.
Taiwan’s official name is the “Republic of China” (ROC), tracing its founding to 1911 on the Chinese mainland after the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty.
The Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), ruled China until 1949 when it was defeated by the army of the Chinese Communist Party of China in a bloody civil war and fled to Taiwan, an island off the southeastern coast of mainland China.
Later that same year, Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the birth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from Tiananmen Gate in Beijing.
The two sides have been governed separately since, though a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures — with Mandarin spoken as the official language in both places.
In 1979, the US acknowledged the People’s Republic of China’s claim that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of China, when Washington severed ties with Taipei to recognize Beijing.
Taiwan, with a population of more than 23 million people, has become a vibrant democracy since the 1990s — with the KMT and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) trading victories in presidential elections.
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