March 30, 2017

Trump, Tillerson press China for action against North Korea

21 March 2017, 05:47 | Taylor George

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. and China feel a sense of urgency about North Korea, which on Sunday tested a high-thrust rocket that it called the "new birth" of its rocket industry.

China has proposed double suspension formula under which US and South Korea should stop aggressive military exercises and North Korea should stop nuclear weapons programme, which drew lukewarm response from Washington.

The language from Tillerson and Wang was notably conciliatory after a run-up in which Trump accused China of doing nothing to control its rogue neighbour, while China accused the USA of fuelling hostilities. And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding, and the opportunity for a visit in the future. "China has done little to help!"

Rex Tillerson reassured President Xi over the weekend that both himself and President Trump are "expecting a new era for constructive development" in bilateral relations between the two powers. The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for both countries.

It was into this regional "hotspot" that Secretary Tillerson arrived last week, immediately meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, proceeding days later to Beijing where he told Chinese officials that "the policy of strategic patience is over".

"We've seen flickers of cooperation between the USA and China but no firm agreement on how to deal with North Korea".

Previously, Tillerson had said in Tokyo that 20 years of diplomatic and other efforts, including a period when the USA provided North Korea with $1.35bn in assistance "to take a different pathway", had come to nothing.

"There are significant concerns with a range of Chinese policies right now that even a high-standard investment agreement won't address", Waterman said.

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This is Tillerson's first face-to-face talk with China's top leader.

Last month, Trump and Xi had a telephone conversation that was described as a warm and cordial.

However, he left the door open Saturday, saying he would work with China to "bring North Korea to a different place where we are hopeful we can begin a dialogue".

But North Korea's continued progress towards putting a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of striking US territory has forced the North Korea issue to the forefront of U.S.

President Trump's campaign rhetoric about a punishing China for its policies on trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea has somewhat moderated since taking office. North Korea's mid-range missiles aimed eastward have mostly fallen into the Sea of Japan, and one long-range missile aimed southward fell in the Pacific near the Philippines' Batanes Island.

It was not clear whether Xi and Tillerson discussed North Korea. "I express my appreciation for this".

"They both could agree over the next six to 12 months to produce an agreement that would increase American access to China and encourage Chinese investment in the U.S. that would generate jobs", said Dr David Lampton at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

Donald Trump's rhetoric on China has not drastically changed over the course of the past year and a half as he has accused China of artificially devaluing its currency and also wished to "bring back jobs" from the country.

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