President Trump told reporters Friday that Chinese President Xi Jinping has told him that he won’t criticize Taiwan directly at the upcoming Beijing Olympics, but he added, “something will happen, I presume.”
“I don’t think you’ll see us raising the temperature, but certainly something will happen, I presume,” Trump said.
Xi did not publicly discuss Taiwan during his annual speech to a central committee of the Communist Party at the close of China’s national congress last week. U.S. President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush raised the issue in their speeches to the party, but former President Bill Clinton refrained from mentioning Taiwan when he made his appearance.
To many of Trump’s critics, the speech from China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping evokes echoes of 1984, when Xi’s predecessors let us know the former “paramount leader” Jiang Zemin would not criticize Taiwan because, as he wrote in a book, “a difference of this kind would bring mischief and harm to party unity.”
From then until this year, the president of China would not publicly discuss Taiwan during political speeches. It was not unusual, however, for China’s official news agency Xinhua to post its verdict after an event, writing: “Chinese government strongly opposes the attempt by the separatist movement seeking independence for Taiwan to operate under the American ‘unfriendly policy’ toward China.”
Taiwan became a democracy in 1980, and its government has been closely allied with the United States since the late 1970s. But not everyone in the United States supports closer economic and military ties with the self-governing island.
Trump is scheduled to make his first official visit to Beijing next month.
“We will not allow our differences to jeopardize the overall relationship of the two nations and the healthy development of the South China Sea,” Trump said Friday.