President Donald Trump pledged to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call late Thursday that the U.S. would honor its "One China" policy that denies Taiwan sovereignty from Beijing.
The call reversed Trump's earlier suggestion that his administration would upend four decades of U.S. diplomatic custom to recognize Taiwan independently from China.
The White House released a statement Thursday evening describing the "lengthy" call between Trump and Xi as "extremely cordial."
"The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our 'one China' policy," the White House said, adding that Trump and Xi had invited each other to visit.
Trump drew ire from the Chinese government in December when he spoke on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. China's Foreign Ministry expressed "serious concern" about the call and stressed that "upholding the ‘one China' principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties."
"If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas is out of the question," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in December.
Prior to Thursday, Xi had not spoken with Trump since Nov. 14, one week after his election. The administration conceded that Xi would only speak with Trump if he publicly pledged to uphold the One China policy, the New York Times reported.
State-run media in China said Trump had "stressed that he fully understood the great importance for the U.S. government to respect the One China policy," and that "the U.S. government adheres to the One China policy."
In an attempt to ease tensions between Washington and Beijing last week, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn spoke with China's top foreign policy official to "reinforce high-level exchanges."