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Trump and Xi in “constant touch” as tensions rise

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) waves to the press as he walks with US President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump have been in “constant touch”, Beijing said Friday, referring to the budding friendship between the two heads of state who began their relationship at loggerheads. JIM WATSON / AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump have been in “constant touch”, Beijing said Friday, referring to the budding friendship between the two heads of state who began their relationship at loggerheads.

Though Trump’s election campaign was marked with acerbic denouncements of Beijing’s “rape” of the US economy, the billionaire politician has lately dropped his anti-China bombast in the hopes of wooing the country into a harder stance against its ally Pyongyang.

Since their first face-to-face meeting in Florida earlier this month, the two presidents “have been in constant touch with each other, exchanging views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Friday, adding:

“This is good for the two countries and also for the whole world.”

Their newfound closeness comes as Trump has made North Korea his top foreign policy priority, with the US administration issuing weeks of warnings that it will no longer tolerate Pyongyang’s missile launches and nuclear tests.

Beijing has repeatedly called for a return to talks on denuclearisation but has long opposed dramatic action against the North, fearing the regime’s collapse would send a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the US military on its doorstep.

The US is expected to push for a tougher Chinese response on Friday at a UN Security Council meeting chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and attended by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

But when asked whether China would give, Geng said that “dialogue and consultation is the only viable way out” of the rising crisis.

“It’s not China who has been escalating tensions, so the key to resolving this issue is not in our hands,” he said.


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