Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Trump expresses frustration with China's support for North Korea

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 7:05 AM
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One with first lady Melania Trump for a trip to Poland and Germany, yesterday.

WASHINGTON (AP):

President Donald Trump expressed frustration with China yesterday for failing to do more to cut off support to North Korea and exert pressure to curb its nuclear pursuits.

North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile test this week demonstrated a dangerous new reach for weapons it hopes to top with nuclear warheads one day. The launch is spurring US demands for global action to counter the threat.

Since he entered the White House, Trump has talked about confronting Pyongyang and pushing China to increase pressure on the North, but neither strategy has produced fast results. Trump had expressed optimism after his first meeting with China's President Xi Jinping that the two would work together to curb North Korea's nuclear programme.

Moments before he departed for Poland, Trump chastised China on Twitter.

"Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 per cent in the first quarter," the president tweeted. "So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!"

 

HIGHER GROWTH RATE

 

In his initial response to the launch on Monday evening, Trump urged China on Twitter to "put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!" But he also said it was "hard to believe" that South Korea and Japan, the two US treaty allies most at risk from North Korea, would "put up with this much longer".

North Korea conducts about 90 per cent of its trade through China. In April, Chinese customs data said total two-way trade between China and North Korea increased 36.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

Raw data from the first quarter of this year, however, showed that total two-way trade between the sides increased by only 7.4 per cent in this first quarter. It was not immediately clear why the customs agency reported a higher growth rate.

Putting up resistance

China has long resisted intensifying economic pressure on neighbouring North Korea, in part out of fear of the instability that could mount on its doorstep, and Trump has not found a way to break through Beijing's old habits.

Trump spoke with Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, discussing North Korea and its nuclear programme with both leaders. He will meet them both this week at the Group of 20 meeting in Germany, as well as have his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US officials joined South Korea and Japan in requesting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Previously, North Korea had demonstrated missiles of short and medium range.

In a show of force directly responding to North Korea's provocation, US and South Korean soldiers fired "deep strike" precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters on Tuesday, US military officials in Seoul said. The missile firings demonstrated US-South Korean solidarity, the US Eighth Army said in a statement.