170209-N-GD109-083 
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 9, 2017) Two E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft assigned to the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113 fly over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a change of command ceremony. The ship's carrier strike group is on a western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)
Spec. 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers//U.S. Navy
170209-N-GD109-083 PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 9, 2017) Two E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft assigned to the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113 fly over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a change of command ceremony. The ship's carrier strike group is on a western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)
Now playing
01:32
US warships sent to Korea: What to know
Now playing
01:42
A vaccine without needles? It's on the way
Now playing
03:44
Do the 1990s hold the key to sustainable websites?
Now playing
02:52
Businesses set vaccine mandate for workers
Now playing
05:52
The climate crisis is taking these farmers' most valuable resource
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Host Conan O'Brien speaks onstage during the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:48
Conan announces his last show after 30 years in late night
Now playing
03:41
How technology at NASA helps guide Biden on climate
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Now playing
03:14
Will Trump be allowed back on Facebook? This board will decide
CNN
Now playing
05:16
WTF is a SPAC?
Now playing
01:51
A shortage of tanker truck drivers could cause stations to run out of gas
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Verizon Media
CEO at Verizon Media K. Guru Gowrappan appears at the 2019 Verizon Media NewFront on April 30, 2019 in New York City.
Now playing
02:47
Verizon sells off Yahoo and AOL
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:40
Warren Buffett warns on US inflation
Now playing
01:00
Astronauts splash down after record-setting mission
ATLANTA - APRIL 30:  A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising.  (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Barry Williams/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
ATLANTA - APRIL 30: A Boeing 757 with a new Delta Airlines logo sits on the tarmac following the company's emergence from bankruptcy at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport April 30,2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 757 sports new branding that will appear on more than 900 planes, at airports and on advertising. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images) 757
Now playing
02:28
Why Delta airlines is resuming selling middle seats
Now playing
02:50
Grocery chain says 'hero pay' forcing them to close stores
Getty Images
Now playing
02:54
Jimmy Kimmel is worried about MyPillow's Mike Lindell

Story highlights

The two leaders met for the first time last week at Trump's estate in Florida

A US strike group has been deployed to the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions

(CNN) —  

China called for a “peaceful” resolution to tensions on the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, as a United States aircraft carrier strike group churned toward the contested region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed the situations in North Korea and Syria with US President Donald Trump in a telephone call Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said.

Trump said on Twitter the call was “very good.”

The cordiality could point to a new direction for the two nations. One analyst described it as a “new phase” of China-US relations on North Korea.

“I think at this point the common interests between the US and China outweigh (North Korea saber-rattling),” said Alexander Neill, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. “China may be prepared to do some sort of tradeoff. … They want to rein in (leader) Kim Jong Un.”

Trump has repeatedly called on China to do more to rein in its neighbor, which has stepped up its missile development and nuclear program since 2016.

The United States dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson after the latest missile test by North Korea last week, drawing a forceful warning from Pyongyang.

North Korea issues warning as US strike group heads to Korean Peninsula

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Trump and Xi had pledged to stay in close contact after their first meeting earlier this month and the phone call didn’t indicate any change in China’s position.

North Korea ‘looking for trouble’: Trump

The unexpected phone call between the two came after Trump turned to Twitter to vent his frustrations over North Korea.

“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the US will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem,” he tweeted.

“North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! USA,” he wrote in a second tweet.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi reiterated that China wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula and called for peace and stability.

“China advocates to resolve the issue through peaceful means, and is willing to maintain communication and coordination with the US on the Korean Peninsula issue,” the statement quoted Xi as saying.

The two leaders met for the first time last week at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

’A tipping point’

In the wake of the Trump-Xi meeting, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China understood how dangerous North Korea’s nuclear program had become and had agreed action must be taken to stop it.

China hasn’t signaled any clear change in policy toward its neighbor and Xi’s language followed China’s usual script on North Korea.

However, Wednesday’s readout was the first time China confirmed in detail that the two leaders had directly discussed North Korea.

Two Chinese statements released directly after the Mar-A-Lago meeting didn’t mention North Korea by name, even though the country had been expected to dominate discussions.

01:13 - Source: CNN
China & North Korea: A complicated relationship

On Wednesday, Global Times, a state-run but provocative tabloid, released an editorial, warning North Korea to “avoid making mistakes at this time.”

North Korea celebrates the birthday of late leader Kim Il Sung on April 15, and Pyongyang often conducts nuclear activities as a “political salute” during the month, the editorial said, warning North Korea that a nuclear test will be viewed as a slap in the face to the United States and will serve only to intensify the conflict between the two countries and deteriorate North Korea’s relationship with China.

“Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang’s new nuclear actions. China will not remain indifferent to Pyongyang’s aggravating violation of the UN Security Council resolution,” it said. “More and more Chinese support the view that the government should enhance sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities. If the North makes another provocative move this month, the Chinese society will be willing to see the UNSC adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North.”

What China wants and fears

Despite the suggestions they might be working more closely together, China and the United States have different views on the Korean Peninsula.

“China’s best-case scenario, what it would really like to happen, would be a liberalized regime in the North, akin to some of the reforms that took place (in China) in the 1980s, so introducing economic reform, removing the concentrated power of the Kim family,” Neill said.

China sees North Korea as a buffer between its vital economic regions next to the border and South Korea, with its heavy US military presence, said John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University.

“North Korea has always been a very critical and also a very sensitive piece on the chessboard for China,” he said.

Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, said the Korean peninsula was the focus of a “game of chicken” between Trump and Kim – much to China’s dismay.

“(Both are) waiting for the other to blink and you can imagine from China’s risk-averse perspective that could end very badly,” he said.