U.S. President Donald Trump will make back-to-back phone calls on Sunday evening: First with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House won’t give any information about the subject of the calls, but previous calls with these leaders have focused on containing Pyongyang.
CGTN’S Roee Ruttenberg reports from Washington, D.C.
The latest round of calls with Japan and China will come just days after U.S. President Donald Trump hosted his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House. At a joint press conference that day, Trump declared that American patience with the leadership in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the North “is over.”
“We are working closely with South Korea and Japan, as well as partners around the world, on a range of diplomatic, security and economic measures to protect our allies and our own citizens from this menace […] Our goal is peace, stability and prosperity for the region,” President Trump said.
In order to accomplish this, the U.S. needs China’s help. Beijing is Pyongyang’s largest trading partner, and is thought to have more influence over its government that any other capital.
When Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida in April, he urged the Chinese leader to do more to contain the threats coming from the DPRK. China had already suspended coal imports from its neighbor, and supported resolutions against Pyongyang at the United Nations.
The DPRK’s official news agency issued a rare rebuke, “China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience … (and) had better ponder over the grave consequences.”
In recent days, however, new signals from Washington suggest that it thinks Beijing is still not doing enough. The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday it was sanctioning two Chinese individuals and a Chinese bank it accused of “facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
The same day, the U.S. State Department green-lighted a total of $1.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.
“This runs counter to the important consensus and spirit reached by both countries’ leaders in the April meeting,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said. “The wrong move of the U.S. side is not beneficial to the two countries and will affect both countries’ cooperation in important fields.”
China has accused the U.S. of using the threat in the Korean peninsula to build up its military presence in the region. The U.S. already has thousands of troops stationed at bases in Japan, and South Korea, which recently scrapped plans for an American-built, anti-ballistic missile system. Beijing had opposed the system, suspecting the U.S. would use it to spy on China.
The cancellation of the defense systen, known as THAAD, was just one of a number of recent signs, showing quiet publicly the growing distance between China and the U.S. when it comes to dealing with the DPRK. Sunday’s dial-up, diplomacy may be the latest effort to dial-down some of that tension.