Calls come after eventful week in Asian politics
North Korea looming large over relations among Asian powers
US President Donald Trump will make back-to-back phone calls to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, the White House announced Saturday night.
Trump and Abe will speak at 8 p.m. ET. Trump’s call with Xi will come 45 minutes later, according to a White House statement.
No information was provided as to what subjects the calls would cover, but they come after an eventful week in East Asia politics.
On Friday, Trump met in Washington with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and speaking alongside Moon at the White House declared that US patience with the North Korean regime “is over.”
The remarks were the latest sign that Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in curbing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The programs are considered a grave threat to South Korea, Japan and the United States, which has thousands of troops stationed at bases in its two Asian allies. US officials are also worried that the US Pacific territory of Guam may also face a North Korean missile threat.
Trump has been seeking more pressure from China to curb the threats from North Korea, which has its biggest trading relationship with Beijing.
But the Trump administration last week sent signals that the US patience on Beijing’s efforts was shrinking.
The Treasury Department on Thursday imposed new sanctions on a Chinese bank and several Chinese nationals while the State Department approved a $1 billion arms deal with Taiwan. Both moves appeared aimed at unsettling China.
The Taiwan arms sale, in particular, drew a strong response from Beijing.
China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, furiously denounced the sale in Chinese state media People’s Daily, saying it violated the agreed upon “one China” policy.
“China has made strong protests to the US and will reserve the right to take further measures,” state media quoted him as saying.
The announcement of the Taiwan arms deal came while Xi was in Hong Kong commemorating the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to China from the United Kingdom.
In a statement marking that anniversary, the US State Department issued a statement saying the US was “concerned about any infringements on civil liberties” in Hong Kong.
In a speech in Hong Kong on Saturday, Xi warned against any challenges to Beijing’s authority in the territory, a special administrative region of China.
“Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses a red line,” Xi said.
On Sunday, in a move that could further strain US-China relations, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea in a “freedom of navigation” exercise, US defense officials said.
It was the second such operation reported under the Trump administration. China strongly denounced a previous one in May, saying it boosted “regional militarization.”
CNN’s Ryan Browne, James Griffiths, Ben Westcott and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.