President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a telephone conversation that the U.S. intends to honor the "One China" policy by acknowledging China's position it has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.
The White House said the phone call between the two world leaders Thursday evening was "extremely cordial" and both presidents "extended invitations" to meet in their respective countries.
Trump was criticized for a phone conversation he had with Taiwan's president after Trump won the presidential election in November.
No U.S. president or president-elect has had such contact with a Taiwanese leader since Washington broke formal ties with Taiwan in 1979 and switched to the larger, fast-growing China. But Washington has remained a staunch informal supporter of Taiwan since then.
In the 1979 U.S.-China Joint Communique, the U.S. recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
Chinese state media said Trump's "inexperience" led him to accept the call from the Taiwanese president, but warned that breaching the one-China policy would "destroy" relations between Washington and Beijing.
Trump seemed bemused by the reaction to the call, saying on his Twitter account, "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call."
Over China's objections, then-president Barack Obama a year ago authorized a $1.83 billion sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, including two frigates, amphibious assault vehicles, and anti-aircraft and anti-ship systems.