Author: China National News
Posted: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
As several nations across the world, and especially those in Asia watched U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements against North Korea over the last couple of months that he has been in power – they’ve seen two sides of America.
One side of America’s reaction to the North Korean threat came in the form of a cool-headed approach, that included Trump writing off Kim Jong Un’s warning that he had an intercontinental ballistic missile, that he was willing to fire anywhere, anytime… Followed by a tweet by Trump, who said it ain’t going to happen.
And another similar one, where Trump chided North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for “misbehaving” and “acting very, very badly” after North Korea tested a new high-thrust engine.
Then came a different form of response from the U.S. – one where the country’s top diplomat huddled up with Asian allies and vowed military action against North Korea, so much so, that China had to tell U.S. Secretary of State to take a “coolheaded” approach with North Korea.
Now, days before Trump gets set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for their first ever one-on-one meeting in Florida – Trump revealed a different side.
In an interview with the Financial Times, commenting on the North Korean issue, Trump said America can “totally” handle the situation in North Korea without China’s help.
North Korea is one amongst the many issues that are set to come up during Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
Answering the question on the discussions on the matter, Trump said, “Yes, we will talk about North Korea. And China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
Trump added that trade was the incentive for China to work with the United States. Further noting that still, the United States could “totally” handle the situation in North Korea without China’s help.
He was also reportedly asked about how he would tackle North Korea, to which Trump said, “I’m not going to tell you. You know, I am not the United States of the past where we tell you where we are going to hit in the Middle East.”
China meanwhile has argued that it does provide diplomatic and economic support to North Korea, but has very limited influence over Kim Jong Un’s government.
Meanwhile, late on Sunday, a State Department spokesman confirmed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been in touch with a top Chinese official about the upcoming trip.
The spokesman said in a statement, “We can confirm Secretary Tillerson spoke today by telephone to Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi regarding this week’s visit of President Xi and other issues of bilateral and regional importance.”
Meeting with Jinping
Trump’s meeting with Jinping is said to be one that all world powers will be watching closely.
While the meeting might prove to be a tough one for Trump, who has previously criticized China on many occasions, for Jinping, it would be one of seeking reassurances.
A report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post noted earlier last week that an informal meeting of the two leaders – in Florida rather than at the White House – may be intended to reduce pressure for any concrete results, which could be difficult to achieve at the moment.
The two leaders will discuss many of the topics that have led to confrontations between China and Trump over the last couple of months.
Trump’s threats to counter China’s trade policies, which he has called unfair is likely to be one of the most important topics the leaders might discuss.
The agenda is likely to also include some of the more contentious issues in bilateral relations, including curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, American concerns about Chinese military ambitions in the South China Sea, amongst others.
However, in his recent interview, Trump specified that he doesn’t “want to talk about tariffs yet, perhaps the next time we meet.”
Further, Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, while speaking on ABC, offered tough talk on China.
Haley said that the U.S. is pressing China to take a firmer stand regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.
She said, “They need to show us how concerned they are. They need to put pressure on North Korea. The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that.”
On Friday last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that North Korea’s “reckless” actions “has got to be stopped.”
Mattis suggested, “This is a threat of both rhetoric and growing capability, and we will be working with the international community to address this. We are working through the United Nations, we are working our allies, and we are working diplomatically including with those who we might be able to enlist in this effort to get North Korea under control. Right now, it appears to be going in a very reckless manner in what its conduct portraying for the future and it’s got to be stopped.”
Allies conduct joint drill
North Korea meanwhile, is reportedly preparing for a new nuclear test.
In light of the reports, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. began a three-day joint naval exercise on Sunday, to counter missile threats from North Korean submarines.
Confirming the drill, Seoul’s defence ministry said it came amid mounting concerns over North Korea’s weapons programme.
So far, Pyongyang has conducted five nuclear tests, two of those tests were conducted last year, amongst which, one was most shocking as it was estimated to have an explosive yield of 10 to 12 kilotons, or 70 to 80 percent of the force of the 15-kiloton atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.
Apart from the two provocative nuclear tests, North Korea even test fired the Musudan missiles several times last year, however, only one of those tests recorded success.
The Musudan missile, with a design range of 1,500 to 2,500 miles, is believed to be capable of reaching South Korea, Japan and even the U.S. territory of Guam.
The country has shown no willingness to engage in dialogue on the nuclear issue often calling Washington’s hope for its denuclearization an outdated illusion.
Meanwhile, the three-day drills by South Korea, Japan and the U.S. involves more than 800 troops.
The drills began off South Korea’s southern coast near Japan and featured multiple naval destroyers and helicopters used in anti-submarine warfare.
According to a statement by the ministry, the drills were aimed at “ensuring effective response to the North’s submarine threats including the submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM)”, and “demonstrates the three countries’ strong determination.”