White House Confuses Taiwan And China In Painful G20 Press Release Blunder

Saul Loeb/POOL AFP

Just before leaving the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday, President Donald Trump held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Following that high-level talk, the White House blasted out a transcript of Trump’s public remarks preceding the meeting, a document that called Xi “President Xi of the Republic of China.”

One problem: the “Republic of China” refers to Taiwan. China is referred to as the “People’s Republic of China.”

This is not the first time that Trump has blundered into the extremely sensitive question of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Before he was even sworn into office, Trump angered China by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s president, something a U.S. leader has not done in decades. Though Trump defended the call at the time, he later told Xi he would honor the “one China” policy and not recognize Taiwan’s status as a sovereign nation.

On Saturday, according to the White House’s transcript, Trump told Xi: “It’s an honor to have you as a friend,” and called China a “great trading partner.”

Though the White House did not provide a translation of Xi’s remarks, Shanghai Media Group’s correspondent Ching-Yi Chang shared a translation with the U.S. press.

Xi, striking a more sober note than Trump, said “there is a lot of work needed to be done” on the “sensitive issues [that] remain in the China-U.S. relationship.”

“Differences emerge endlessly,” Xi reported said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.
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