U.S. President Donald Trump's overnight swing in sentiment towards China may herald a more pragmatic diplomatic approach but experts are warning he is still likely to pursue a toughened stance compared to some of his predecessors.
The U.S. President reversed his recent rhetoric which had questioned the need to continue to honor the 'One China' policy – a code that asserts countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (China) must not officially recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan) – in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday evening.
Xinhua, China's official press agency, captured the level of intrigue surrounding the result of the call by publishing a poll on Twitter asking voters to decide on the motivation behind the U.S. leader's mindset change. The choices offered ran the gamut from a) Blackmailing didn't work b) China's unyielding stance c) Pressure from within U.S. and d) Ivanka and Arabella. (Side note: Three days remain to cast your vote if you have a view).
Trump's about-face is not inconsistent with his avid pursuit of an "economic nationalist agenda", the prism through which all of his policies can be viewed, Arun Pillai-Essex, political risk analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC on Friday.
"He wanted to ratchet down the tension surrounding U.S./Sino relations. With [Japanese Prime Minister] Shinzo Abe arriving tomorrow he didn't want to have another flashpoint in the East Asian region," explained Pillai-Essex.
"I think he also wanted to assuage concerns with a lot of the U.S. allies that the U.S. wasn't throwing away 70 years of foreign policy just under this administration," he continued, before opining that we should not read too much into the apparent directional shift.
"Trump is really seeking to restructure the relationship and I don't see that changing," the analyst concluded.