With his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled for later this week, Donald Trump is continuing to let the verbal bombs fly, promising to take on the North Korean situation alone if China is not willing to apply more pressure to Pyongyang.
The US president told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday that he plans to bring up North Korea during his summit with Xi on Thursday and Friday at his Mar-a-Lago resort, emphasizing that China has “great influence” over Pyongyang.
But Trump also made it clear that he’s ready to go it alone if necessary. When asked if he would consider a “grand bargain” in which China applies increased pressure on North Korea in return for the US later removing troops from the Korean peninsula, Trump responded simply:
“Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”
Asked if that meant dealing with Pyongyang one on one, Trump said, “I don’t have to say any more. Totally.”
Dennis Wilder, a former CIA China analyst, tried to shed some light on what exactly Trump meant with these cryptic statement. Wilder told Financial Times that the president is trying to warn China that the US is about to begin instituting “secondary sanctions” on North Korea, including sanctions on “Chinese companies and individuals who deal with North Korea.”
Still, others aren’t so sure that Trump will back up his tough talk.
Trump has zero credibility, so when he says he will deal with North Korea unilaterally, no one I spoke to in Asia actually believes it
— Benjamin Haas 本雅明 (@haasbenjamin) April 3, 2017
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that the US and China were like two trains accelerating headlong on a collision course, condemning North Korea for its missile launches, but also placing blame on the US for raising tensions with troop activities.
Beijing has been working diligently at getting all sides back to the negotiating talbe, but have had their efforts undermined by continued missile tests from Pyongyang. In February, Beijing responded to North Korea missile tests by banning coal imports from the country for the rest of the year, cutting off a significant portion of the hermit kingdom’s foreign income. In response, Pyongyang fired back, accusing its only ally of “dancing to the tune of the US.”
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