- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2017

Amid rising tensions across East Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Trump in a phone call that some “negative factors” have affected their relationship, China said Monday after the two leaders discussed the nuclear threat from North Korea.

In the call late Sunday night, Mr. Xi stressed that he and Mr. Trump have achieved “important results” since their initial meeting in February. But the Chinese government’s statement about the phone call also indicated that tensions are growing between Beijing and Washington.

“Bilateral relations have also been affected by some negative factors, for which the China side has expressed its position to the U.S. side,” reported state-owned China Central Television (CCTV).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing that the U.S. was “very clear” about Beijing’s position on North Korea, though he did not elaborate on what Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump about North Korea.

The White House said only that the two leaders discussed a range of issues of mutual interests, including North Korea and trade relations.

“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula,” the White House said. The phone call came ahead of their appearance at the G20 summit in Germany scheduled for the end of this week.

Last week, the Trump administration approved a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, contrary to the urgings of Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

On the same day, China’s Dandong bank was sanctioned by the U.S. for alleged ties to North Korea.

The administration last week also labeled China as one of the world’s worst human traffickers and challenged Beijing in the South China Sea, by sailing a destroyer close to a disputed island chain that China claims.

Those moves came after Mr. Trump tweeted that Chinese efforts on North Korea, while appreciated, had “not worked out.” The president has been seeking Mr. Xi’s help in pressing Pyongyang to scale back its nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pledging deeper cooperation on North Korea.

“The two leaders exchanged views on the growing threat from North Korea, including their unity with respect to increasing pressure on the regime to change its dangerous path,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

As Mr. Trump was speaking with the leaders of China and Japan, former President Barack Obama was speaking in South Korea about the difficulties of dealing with North Korea.

“The first thing to stipulate is this is hard, it’s a hard problem,” Mr. Obama said at the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul. “In North Korea you have a government that is unmatched in its repression of its people … You have a young man who is only interested in maintaining power and is willing to do anything to sustain that.”

Mr. Obama said North Korea’s future prosperity would not come “from the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

“The future belongs to those who build, not those who are committed to destroy … so long as it remains outside of the world order, they should face consequences,” he said.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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