Xi told Trump US-China ties hit by 'negative factors': state media

In the latest sign of tension, a United States naval destroyer on Sunday sailed near disputed territory claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, prompting a furious response from the Chinese government.

A statement that appeared on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs only said that the two sides had also discussed issues concerning the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

If true, it would be a direct rebuke to United States president Donald Trump's earlier declaration that such a test "won't happen!"

"The Chinese president also said that his country attaches great importance to Trump's reaffirmation that the United States will adhere to the one-China policy" that rules out formal contacts with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, the Xinhua news agency reported. Mr Trump also spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan about North Korea, and they highlighted "their unity with respect to increasing pressure on the regime to change its risky path", the administration said.

The Trump administration has signaled in recent days it is increasingly frustrated with China's role in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions. He pronounced his intention to cooperate with Japan and South Korea to increase pressure on North Korea by enforcing sanctions.

Trump railed against China during his combative campaign, accusing its export-driven economy of stealing American manufacturing jobs, and vowing to impose a blanket 45% tariff on imports.

"Negative factors" have affected Sino-US relations, and China has already expressed its position to the US, Mr Xi told Mr Trump, according to a readout of a telephone call between the leaders carried by state television. The Kim Jong Un regime has tested five nuclear bombs to date and is edging ever closer to developing a missile that could carry a warhead as far as the US mainland.

The sale came the same day as new sanctions were announced on China's Bank of Dandong, which the U.S. accuses of supporting illegal North Korean financial activity. Trump also failed to label Beijing as currency manipulator as promised at the stump. He withdrew the threat before meeting Xi in April but questions remain in China about his commitment to a policy that has been fundamental to US-China relations.

The White House also suggested it would act against imported Chinese steel.

In less than one week, the USA has finalized a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, labeled China one of the world's worst human traffickers and imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank for doing business with North Korea. "It's on its normal downward trajectory, not a nosedive". The talks only contributed to a souring national relations.

Observers warned that if Washington fails to do damage control, ties between the countries may fray, as an arms deal breaches U.S.pledges in past official statements and betrays the one-China policy.

Mr Trump previously called his Chinese counterpart a "good man" after they met in April. "We will see what happens!"

Relations between China and South Korea have been strained by the THAAD deployment though both sides have struck a more conciliatory tone since President Moon Jae-in took office in South Korea May. "At least I know China tried!" "He was OK with it", said Mr Trump. "The Chinese would fully appreciate that the message is: now the rest of the agenda is up for grabs", says Delury. This makes Chinese cooperation with Trump's request very unlikely.

  • Jon Douglas