Wednesday brought yet another round of talks between the US and China, in which the two superpowers once again discussed the threat posed by North Korea. Have a look at the attendees:
Security talks between China, US kick off in Washington, DC.The countries' presidents announced talks in April at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. pic.twitter.com/0qziq4gGMd
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) June 21, 2017
The talks come just one day after US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that working with China to rein in the North Korean crisis “has not worked out.” Trump’s tweet and the diplomatic meetings in Washington fall under the shadow of the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who passed away on Monday after having spent 17 months in a North Korean prison camp for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
At the start of the meetings, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the press that both Washington and Beijing officials stand behind their request that North Korea “halt its illegal nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile tests.” But that wasn’t all. Tillerson also told reporters that “we reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.” Apparently, Washington hasn’t given up on Beijing after all.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence appeared to praise the efforts that China has taken (at the behest of Trump), telling CNN that: “The President’s direct engagement with President Xi of China and the fact that now you’ve seen China turning back coal shipments from North Korea, making changes in the ability of people to travel by air from Pyongyang into China and other measures that they may well take in the future demonstrates the hands-on diplomacy that President Trump has brought to this.”
So, apparently working with China has worked out?
Unfortunately, there still seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what the US expects of China, and what China is actually willing to do. “China welcomes and encourages all thoughts and proposals that are conducive to easing tensions and confrontation, enhancing mutual trust, and solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue fundamentally,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said yesterday.
However, seemingly in response to Tillerson’s suggestion that the US was the one wearing the pants in this diplomatic relationship, Geng added that “China opposes ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ on foreign enterprises,” stating that while China will enforce UN Security Council resolutions, its foreign policy initiatives are not a result of direct pressure from other countries.
It is still not yet clear what the next step will be in addressing the North Korean threat, but relations between Beijing and Washington appear to be stable enough. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have reportedly been invited to visit China later this year. Maybe with Jared and other members of his administration serving as mediators between his father-in-law and the Chinese government, there will be fewer Twitter outbursts and more cohesive policies. One can hope, at least
By Emma Abrams
[Images via People’s Daily]
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat