President Donald Trump's honeymoon period with Chinese President Xi Jinping has ended abruptly as U.S. has entered into a $1.4 billion arms sale deal 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 is pertinent to mention that Trump met Jinping in Florida in April 2017 and described Xi as a "terrific person" with whom he had a "very good relationship". Trump sought China's help in putting pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programme and withdrew U.S. pressure in other areas including the South China Sea and labelling China as a currency manipulator. However, the Trump administration has since said that it remains committed to the decades-long "one China" policy.
Earlier, during his presidential campaign, Trump had accused China of currency manipulation and military expansionism in the South China Sea. He even antagonised Beijing when Trump spoke to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen in a phone call in December, upending decades of diplomatic protocol.
On 21 June, Trump Posted a tweet, saying "Chinese efforts to restrain North Korea had "not worked out," while adding he greatly appreciated that they had "tried."
On 29 June, the Trump administration notified Congress of its plans to go ahead with the controversial arms package, the first such sale under President Trump.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the agreement included "seven proposed defence sales for Taiwan," adding that the deal was valued at "about $1.42 billion." China has long criticised US arms sales to Taiwan.
The arms sale decision coincided with the announcement of new sanctions on China's Bank of Dandong, which the U.S. accuses of supporting North Korea's financial aspect.
The U.S. has accused China of not being tough enough on North Korea's nuclear and missiles tests since Beijing remains the country's key source of diplomatic and economic support.
North Korea has been conducting missile tests even after Donald Trump took office in January and on June 23 Defiant Pyongyang conducted another rocket engine test that can be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM capable enough of reaching the U.S. mainland.
U.S. National Security Adviser HR McMaster publicly confirmed military options had been prepared to deal with North Korea."What we have to do is prepare all options because the President has made it clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea, and a threat that can target the United States and target the American population," McMaster told a Washington think tank, CNN reported.
Trump is now discussing North Korea issue with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on 29 June night, although the Korean leader favors a diplomatic approach rather than military engagement.