White House gaffe names Xi as President of Taiwan, not China

Kristen Gonzales
July 12, 2017

US President Donald Trump took a conciliatory tone on Saturday at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where the leaders agreed to keep working on two pressing issues - the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and bilateral trade irritants.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China asked the United States for an explanation of the mistake, and the USA said it was a technical error.

The mistake was in the statement's introduction, not the actual text, and was corrected by Monday to read "President Xi of China".

In early December, Trump, as president-elect, first stoked controversy over the country by taking a congratulatory phone call from its president, Tsai Ing-wen.

Trump hailed his "wonderful relationship" with Xi and expressed confidence in "success" in addressing common problems, together with China, according to the White House.

The Chinese leader has told Trump previously that Beijing expects Washington to continue managing relations based on the "One China" principle that rules out formal contacts with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

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"It is basic knowledge for those working in diplomacy, yet this isolated incident shows how incompetent the White House staff are, how casual they are, and how poorly coordinated they are", said Shi Yinhong, a professor of global relations at China Renmin University.

The gaffe has gone largely unreported in China because the local media have no motivation to mock Trump, Shi said.

In a separate incident, a White House press readout labelled Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the president of the Far East country.

Trump first ruffled feathers in Beijing after his November election victory, when the president-elect accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, despite the U.S. having broken off relations with the island in 1979.

The U.S. government recently approved $1.42 billion in arms sales to the island.

The issue of Taiwan is very sensitive to China because the mainland considers it as its breakaway province.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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