Xi Jinping

Beijing expected to protest against US arms sale to Taiwan

Controversial deal likely to be top of the agenda when Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with his US counterpart Donald Trump by phone

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 July, 2017, 10:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:21pm

Beijing is expected to protest against the United States’ approval of an arms sale to Taiwan when the presidents of the two nations speak over the phone on Monday morning.

The call comes as frustration builds in the White House over North Korea’s nuclear programme and overcapacity in the steel market.

US officials said that as well as with Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump would speak with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The phone calls are scheduled to start at 8am on Monday.

The US State Department on Thursday approved US$1.4 billion of arms sales to Taiwan, the first under Trump.

US turns screws on China over North Korea with Taiwan arms deal

The move and other gestures – including blacklisting China’s Bank of Dandong over illicit dealings with North Korea – have infuriated Beijing, which accused Washington of interfering in its internal affairs and undermining Sino-US mutual confidence.

Wu Xinbo, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University, said Xi was likely to use the call to protest against the approval of the arms deal.

“With the arms sale to Taiwan and the sanctions against China’s Bank of Dandong, the US is pressuring China on the North Korea issue,” Wu said.

“But the ball is now in the US’s court as there is an emerging consensus between China, Russia and the new South Korean government on calling for a suspension of the US-South Korea military exercise in exchange for the suspension of North Korea’ nuclear tests,” he said.

US decision to sell arms to Taiwan ‘violated consensus’ reached by Xi, Trump in Florida

The Trump administration has signalled that it is frustrated with China for not doing more to rein in Pyongyang, and is considering moving ahead with trade actions. The arms deal with Taiwan is seen as a move by Washington to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing over North Korea.

Wu said the recent hardening of the United States’ stance on China could also stem from economic considerations, as “it is now approaching the end of the 100-day plan and the US wants to extract more concessions from China”, he said.

US blacklists Chinese bank, company and two nationals to pressure Beijing to rein in Pyongyang

Trump and Xi met in April at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, during which the US president said he was willing to work with China on trade issues. The two nations came up with a 100-day action plan to deal with trade imbalances, which will be wrapped up later this month.

The pair will also meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany later this week where trade practices are expected to be high on the agenda.

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Liu Weidong, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Trump was likely to use today’s phone call to inform and coordinate with Xi and Abe on the US’ latest attitude towards North Korea after his meeting with South Korean President Moon-Jae-in on Friday.

Additional reporting by Reuters