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Trump Sends Letter to China's Xi

2017-2-9

U.S. President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He wrote that he is looking forward to working with Xi to “develop a constructive relationship” that benefits both countries, the White House said in a statement.

The letter also thanked Xi for his note of congratulations on Trump’s inauguration. It also wished the Chinese people a happy Lantern Festival and a successful Year of the Rooster.

China’s Lantern Festival takes place this Saturday, February 11. The Lunar New Year was January 28.

China's President Xi Jinping attends official talks in Bern, Switzerland, Jan. 16, 2017
China's President Xi Jinping attends official talks in Bern, Switzerland, Jan. 16, 2017

China praised Trump’s letter on Thursday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China “highly commended” Trump for the letter to Xi. Lu also dismissed suggestions that China had expected contact from Trump sooner.

“It is known to all that since President Trump took office, China and the U.S. have been in close contact,” Lu said.

Trump and Xi have not spoken directly since Trump took office last month. They did, however, talk on the phone soon after Trump won the presidential election in November.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said last week that the two countries were remaining "in close touch.” China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, has led that contact.

Last week, Yang told Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, that China hopes it can work with the United States to manage and control disputes and sensitive problems.

As a presidential candidate, Trump accused China of unfair trade practices and of undervaluing its currency.

When he was president-elect, Trump took a telephone call from Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. Some Chinese officials said the call violated America’s 1979 pledge of support for a one-China policy. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Since taking office, Trump and members of his administration have been critical of China’s actions in the South China Sea.

Diao Daming is with the Institute of American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He told the state-run Global Times that Trump’s letter to Xi is a good sign, but “we still need to observe his [Trump’s] real actions.”

Chu Yun is a professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing. He told the Global Times that Trump’s choice to send a letter instead of making a phone call shows he “may still want to keep his distance from China.” However, he said, a “friendly signal is better than a provocation."

Last month, Chinese internet users found another “friendly signal” on social media. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, posted a video of her 5-year-old daughter singing a song in Mandarin in celebration of the Chinese New Year.

The short video spread quickly in China.

I’m Anna Matteo.

VOA News and the Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it with additional materials from the Global Times and Learning English content. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in this Story

constructive - adj. helping to develop or improve something

benefit - v. to be useful or helpful to (someone or something)

commend - v. to praise (someone or something) in a serious and often public way

sensitive - adj. likely to cause people to become upset

provocation - n. an action or occurrence that causes someone to become angry or to begin to do something