Tillerson, Wang in highest-level US-China meet under Trump

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi take their seats before a meeting at the World Conference Center in Bonn, western Germany, on February 17, 2017 | © AFP | Brendan Smialowski

Bonn (AFP) | 17 February 2017 9:48

Trump outraged Beijing when he appeared to put in doubt Washington’s near-50 year “One China” policy but a conciliatory phone call restating the position cleared the way for Wang and Tillerson to meet on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in the German city of Bonn.

Details of what the two men discussed in the closed-door meeting were not immediately available.

Although Washington severed ties with Taiwan in 1979, it has retained close links with Taipei, particularly in defence, and Beijing watches closely for any sign of US backsliding.

Trump’s telephone call with Taiwan’s president after his November election victory infuriated Beijing which saw it as a repudiation of the “One China” policy.

It had appeared likely that Wang would not attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in the fallout but after Trump’s call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, it was announced that the trip would go ahead.

Trump described the conversation as “very warm,” in an apparent effort to ease friction over Taiwan and other issues.

The new US president attacked China on the campaign trail for stealing American jobs and running a massive, unfairly won trade surplus with the United States.

Several of his cabinet, including Tillerson, also warned Beijing against throwing its weight about in the South China Sea, insisting the US would preserve international rights of navigation.

The Chinese foreign ministry, announcing Wang’s trip, said Beijing hoped the G20 gathering would “send positive signals on supporting multilateralism, enhancing global governance and creating an innovative, interconnected, open and inclusive world economy.”

Taiwan has been ruled separately since the two sides split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

© 2017 AFP


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