‘Neg­a­tive fac­tors’ hurt US ties, Xi warns Trump

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping warned US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day that “some neg­a­tive fac­tors” are hurt­ing US-China re­la­tions, as ten­sions flare anew over a slew of long­stand­ing sore points. Xi’s com­ments in a phone call with Trump fol­low Bei­jing’s dis­plea­sure over US arms sales to ri­val Tai­wan, US sanc­tions against a Chi­nese bank over its deal­ings with North Korea and, most re­cently, the sail­ing of a US de­stroyer within the ter­ri­to­rial seas limit of a Chi­nese­claimed is­land in the South China Sea.

Bei­jing was also miffed af­ter the State De­part­ment gave Bei­jing a dis­mal grade last week in a new hu­man traf­fick­ing re­port. Ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, Xi told Trump in their call that Bei­jing ex­pects Wash­ing­ton to con­tinue man­ag­ing re­la­tions on the ba­sis of the “one China” prin­ci­ple that rules out for­mal con­tacts with Tai­wan, which China claims as its own ter­ri­tory.

“Xi Jin­ping em­pha­sized that, since my meet­ing with the pres­i­dent at Mar-a-Lago, China-US re­la­tions have achieved im­por­tant out­comes,” state broad­caster China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion re­ported, re­fer­ring to Xi’s meet­ing with Trump in Florida in April. “At the same time, bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have been af­fected by some neg­a­tive fac­tors. China has ex­pressed its po­si­tion to the US.” Seek­ing to lighten the mes­sage slightly, Xi also said that China-US re­la­tions had achieved “im­por­tant out­comes” since the Florida meet­ing. It’s un­clear whether any of those is­sues will come up in dis­cus­sions at the G-20 sum­mit in Ger­many this week, at which Trump and Xi are ex­pected to hold a bi­lat­eral meet­ing.

But it now ap­pears that China is push­ing back against the US pres­sure, set­ting the stage for a po­ten­tial con­fronta­tion. China’s for­eign min­istry ac­cused the US of vi­o­lat­ing Chi­nese sovereignty and dis­rupt­ing “peace, se­cu­rity and or­der of the rel­e­vant wa­ters” af­ter the US Navy de­stroyer USS Stethem sailed Sun­day within 12 nau­ti­cal miles of tiny Tri­ton is­land, which is claimed by China, Tai­wan and Viet­nam. China’s de­fense min­istry is­sued a sim­i­lar state­ment Mon­day, say­ing it would beef up pa­trols and take pre­cau­tions com­men­su­rate with the threat level to safe­guard “na­tional sovereignty and se­cu­rity.”

Trump and his top aides have done lit­tle to hide their ir­ri­ta­tion over what they see as the reluc­tance by China, North Korea’s main eco­nomic part­ner, to tighten the screws on Py­ongyang over its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams. Un­til re­cently, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials had been de­scrib­ing China as a part­ner in their strat­egy to pre­vent North Korea from de­vel­op­ing the abil­ity to strike the US main­land with nu­clear weapons. While China has agreed to sanc­tions, it is wary of mea­sures that could cause the regime’s col­lapse, leav­ing a united, US-backed Korea on its bor­der.

How­ever, Trump hinted last month at his loss of pa­tience, tweet­ing that his bid to se­cure a tougher Chi­nese ap­proach “has not worked out.” Asked about the state of ties, Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said Mon­day that it was nor­mal to en­counter “some is­sues in the process of de­vel­op­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.” “We be­lieve that the sig­nif­i­cance of our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship has al­ready ex­ceeded the bi­lat­eral scope and is ex­ert­ing im­por­tant in­flu­ence on the devel­op­ment of the whole world,” Geng told re­porters at a reg­u­larly sched­uled press brief­ing.

“On our part, we are will­ing to de­velop the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship based on non-con­fronta­tion, mu­tual ben­e­fit and mu­tual trust, ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion and prop­erly man­age dif­fer­ences be­tween the two coun­tries so as to fur­ther ad­vance the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.” Along with Xi, Trump also spoke with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, with whom he reaf­firmed a shared com­mit­ment to deal­ing with North Korea, the White House said. It said the pres­i­dent also looked for­ward to meet­ing Abe at the up­com­ing G-20 sum­mit in Ham­burg.

Abe praised Trump for the re­cent US sanc­tions on the small Bank of Dan­dong over its al­leged sup­port for North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to Ja­panese Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga. That sev­ers the bank en­tirely from the US fi­nan­cial sys­tem, pend­ing a 60-day re­view pe­riod. — AP

MOSCOW: Chi­nese Leader Xi Jin­ping passes a Rus­sian honor guard dur­ing a wel­com­ing cer­e­mony upon his ar­rival to Vnukovo air­port yes­ter­day in Moscow. Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping ar­rived yes­ter­day for an of­fi­cial two-day visit. —AFP

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