President Donald Trump on Saturday signaled his chagrin at what he described as China’s inaction on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile ambitions.
“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk,” Mr. Trump wrote in a pair of posts on his Twitter account. “We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
On Friday, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile that experts said put the continental U.S. in range of a strike, illustrating rapid advancements in technology and intensifying Pyongyang’s standoff with Washington.
Following the launch, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged world leaders to tighten United Nations sanctions on North Korea and singled out Russia and China for not doing enough to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
“As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability,” he said.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing was opposed to any further North Korean missile launches and urged all sides to “act cautiously” to avoid further inflaming tensions on the peninsula.
On Saturday, two U.S. bombers performed a flyover of the Korean Peninsula in what the U.S. Air Force said was a response to Pyongyang’s Friday missile test.
Earlier in the year, Mr. Trump had touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Mr. Trump at his Florida resort in April, where the two agreed to work together to address North Korea’s nuclear-weapon and missile programs. But in June, Mr. Trump suggested the joint effort had proved unsuccessful.
“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out,” Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post on June 20. “At least I know China tried.”
The Trump administration’s efforts to recast trade ties with Beijing also suffered a setback earlier this month, when high-level economic talks between the two nationsended without any concrete agreement or future agenda.
After a full day of bilateral meetings, the U.S. side issued a terse statement saying that “China acknowledged our shared objective to reduce the trade deficit which both sides will work cooperatively to achieve.”
The statement from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin didn’t provide further details on just how much the two sides could agree on, or when they would resume talks.