WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration hardened its approach to China on Thursday, blacklisting a small Chinese bank over dealings with North Korea while approving more than a billion dollars in military sales to Taiwan.
The twin moves, both expected to infuriate Beijing, came just days after President Donald Trump appeared to lose faith in his strategy of enlisting Chinese help on North Korea, arguing in a cryptic tweet that it had “not worked out.” Still, the U.S. insisted it still wanted to work with China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, to combat the nuclear threat.
“We are in no way targeting China with these actions,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at the White House, referring to sanctions the U.S. slapped on the Bank of Dandong, accused of illicit dealings with the North.
It was unlikely China would see it that way, especially given the one-two punch with the sales to Taiwan, the self-governing territory that Beijing considers to be part of China. And Trump has a history of linking the Taiwan conflict to his broader hopes for cooperation with China.
Shortly after being elected president, Trump stunned Beijing when he broke with decades of U.S. policy by accepting a phone call from Taiwan’s president. Two months later, after being sworn in, Trump reversed course and told Chinese President Xi Jinping he’d honor the “One China” policy that recognizes only Beijing, clearing the way for him to seek Xi’s help on North Korea.
Trump has been leaning on Xi to help stop the North’s development of nuclear weapons before they…
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