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‘Negative Factors’ Threaten US-China Ties, Xi Warns Trump

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The Chinese president noted a deterioration of bilateral ties in a phone conversation with President Donald Trump Sunday.

President Xi Jinping said certain “negative factors,” specifically U.S. actions inconsistent with Chinese national interests, are creating friction and inhibiting cooperation between the two powers. “Xi Jinping stressed that since his meeting with President Trump, important results have been achieved in China-US relations,” China’s state-run broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported, adding, “Meanwhile, bilateral relations have also been affected by some negative factors, for which the China side has expressed its position to the U.S. side.”

U.S.-China relations appeared positive in the wake of the meeting between Trump and Xi in Mar-a-Lago in April, but the past week has been a hard for ties between the two countries.

The Department of State released its annual human trafficking report Tuesday, downgrading China’s status and listing the country among the world’s worst offenders. Beijing criticized the U.S. for “speaking irresponsibly.” The U.S. announced the approval of a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which Beijing perceives as a separatist province, Thursday, the same day the Department of Treasury sanctioned a Chinese bank — the Bank of Dandong — for laundering money for the North Korean regime. Beijing was “outraged” and demanded the U.S. move to “stop wrongful actions” in order to avoid unnecessary confrontation. The U.S. Navy dispatched a guided-missile destroyer Sunday to challenge China’s questionable claims in the South China Sea, eliciting a harsh response from China, which declared the apparent freedom-of-navigation operation a “serious offense.”

In recent weeks, China has also continued to express opposition to the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield in South Korea, arguing the system cripples China’s nuclear deterrence strategy and threatens Chinese national security.

China has suggested that U.S. actions are in violation of the spirit of the meeting in Mar-a-Lago. A marked increase in tension between the U.S. and China hints at an end to Trump and Xi’s “bromance.”

The sudden hammering of China’s interests come at a time when observers detect Trump’s growing frustration with China’s inability to successfully rein in North Korea, which continues to test ballistic missiles and is still holding several American prisoners hostage. The reclusive regime recently sent a U.S. college student back in a coma. He died one week after returning home.

Trump was initially hopeful that China would solve the North Korea problem, despite clear indications that Beijing and Washington have very different visions for the future of the Korean Peninsula.

That optimism appears to have faded.

It is unclear whether the president is now applying the stick after the carrot failed to yield the desired results, but there is clear friction between China and the U.S. in the wake of recent U.S. moves to put pressure on Beijing.

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