Trump to press Beijing on North Korea, trade during China visit

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump will urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea and take other steps to pressure Pyongyang when he travels to China next month, a senior White House official has said.

Isolating North Korea further is a key goal for Mr Trump on what will be his longest foreign trip to date. His Nov 3 to 14 trip will include visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

China, Pyongyang's major ally, has said it will strictly enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.

China accounts for more than 90 per cent of trade with the isolated country. But the White House official who briefed reporters ahead of the trip yesterday said China needs to do more to comply with two UN Security Council resolutions that were approved unanimously, including with China's support.

"We would like to see China follow through on those commitments. We would like to see China do things bilaterally as well that might even go beyond things that are mandated by those UN Security Council resolutions," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Though China has been angered by North Korea's repeated nuclear and missile tests and demanded they stop, Beijing also sees the United States and South Korea sharing responsibility for rising tensions because of military drills they carry out in the region.

The official said Washington has told Beijing how unjust it is to retaliate against South Korea with trade-restrictive measures for Seoul's decision to deploy a US anti-missile system in the wake of the North's series of ballistic missile tests. Beijing believes the system can be used to look inside Chinese territory.

Mr Trump is in a stand-off with North Korea over its nuclear weapons ambitions, and he has threatened to "totally destroy" the country.

Mr Trump has frequently asked China to help rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But this strategy has so far failed to stop Pyongyang from conducting nuclear bomb tests at an underground facility and firing ballistic missile tests into the Pacific Ocean over Japan.

The failure to confront and reverse the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea will lead to a "much darker era", the White House official said.

But the official also said Mr Trump is looking for a peaceful resolution of the North Korea stand-off.

With Mr Xi consolidating power in the wake of a Communist Party Congress in Beijing, Mr Trump believes the Chinese President will have a greater authority to take steps against North Korea, senior administration officials said last week.

Mr Trump will also be tough on trade during talks with Mr Xi as he seeks to reduce the US trade deficit with China, the senior White House official said yesterday.

"We have huge barriers that American companies have to surmount to gain access to the Chinese market. The President is intent on rectifying that situation," said the official.

During Mr Trump's five-nation Asia visit, he will also raise the issue of human rights and security with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the official noted.

The US leader may meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam on the same trip but no plans have been confirmed yet, the official added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Trump to press Beijing on North Korea, trade during China visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe