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Trump meets China’s top diplomat to discuss possible meeting with Xi

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US President Donald Trump had a meeting with State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the White House on February 27, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yang, China’s top diplomat, met Trump briefly after talks with the new U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Jared Kushner, senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to a Reuters report.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited Yang as saying that earlier talks between President Xi and Trump by phone has pointed the direction for Sino-US relations. And China would be willing to strengthen communications at both top level and other various levels with the United States and broaden bilateral cooperation and coordination on important regional and international issues.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry statement cited Trump as saying that he is glad that he had very important conversation with Xi. Xi spoke to Trump over phone on February 9, during which Trump agreed to honor the “one China” policy. Last December, Trump as president-elect had taken the call from the leader of Taiwan, which is known to have angered Beijing and regarded as a break in protocol.

“The Trump administration’s policy toward China seems very unpredictable and inconsistent right now. Early on, it seemed as though Trump would support greater independence for Taiwan and take a harder line on the South China Sea islands. But then he told President Xi Jinping that he would honor the one-China policy,” Bruce Larson, professor of political science at Gettysburg College told Sino-US.com.

Yang was the first top Chinese official to meet Trump since he took office on January 20. A senior U.S. administration official said the meeting between Yang and Trump lasted five to seven minutes, and they have discussed the “possibility of arranging a meeting between Trump and Xi, but no date was set,” said the Reuters report.

Trump is known to be a harsh China critic who has promised to pin down China as a currency manipulator and wage a trade war with China in a bid to balance long-standing huge trade deficit with China. 

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