Asia Minute: Donald Trump Adopts Different Communications Strategies with Asian Leaders

Feb 10, 2017

Credit Gage Skidmore / Flickr

(As you’ve been hearing on NPR today) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with President Trump at the White House today and the two leaders will play golf in Florida tomorrow. The trip underlines a difference in communication styles the president has used with different leaders in the Asia Pacific in his first three weeks in office. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Donald Trump’s golf game tomorrow with Shinzo Abe is going to get a lot of attention.  But his phone call Thursday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping was also significant. And the sequencing was important, coming just before the meeting with Abe.

The White House said “President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy.”

That means there is one China represented by the government in Beijing, and clears any potential ambiguity regarding Taiwan.

For the Beijing government at this point, there could be no more important statement.

It’s a cornerstone of the relationship with the United States and that public statement clears the way for whatever may come next in US/China relations.

Before Thursday, President Trump had telephoned nearly two dozen world leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But before last night, Xi had only received a written note with best wishes for the Lunar New Year about a week and a half after the first day of the year of the rooster.

The two leaders did speak after the November election but both sides seemed content to stay away from the phone for a while—especially following that well-publicized frosty call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

It’s also significant that the call with Xi took place before the meeting with Japan’s leader.  In part because it clears the way for discussions ranging from trade to security knowing that China’s top policy priority has already been addressed.