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Will China not co-operate with US in pressuring North Korea?

The Japan News/ANN | Saturday, Apr 15, 2017

US President Donald Trump (Left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Photo: Reuters

It is not enough if the US and Chinese leaders - both of whom have a responsibility to stabilize the international situation and the world economy - only engaged in staging amicable bilateral relations from start to finish. Their first meeting as national leaders cannot possibly be described as being fruitful.

US President Donald Trump has held talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at his retreat in Florida. No joint press conference was given, or joint statement issued, despite such arrangements being customary practices. This seems to demonstrate a wide gap in their respective stances.

However earnestly the two leaders emphasise an expansion in the range of bilateral co-operation, it will lack persuasiveness if no specific agreement is reached regarding urgent issues.

It is particularly worrying to note that they did no more than share the view that North Korea's nuclear and missile development has reached "a very serious stage."

According to the US side, there was no discussion regarding a comprehensive solution to the problem during the latest talks.

Read also: North Korea warns of nuclear strike if provoked; Trump 'armada' steams on

Trump has broken away from the policy of "strategic patience," which was championed by the administration of former President Barack Obama, and he is considering "all options on the table."

He told Xi that the United States is prepared to map out a plan to "act alone" against North Korea if it cannot get China to co-operate.

This was because Trump only received the same response from Xi as was given in the past, despite urging him to increase pressure on the North.

The US military carried out a missile attack on Syria during Trump's meeting with Xi. The action could have served to give Xi a message that the United States will not hesitate to take military action against North Korea.

Restrict oil, other support

If the Xi administration does not want a disturbance to erupt on the Korean Peninsula, it needs to restrict the supply of oil and other assistance to North Korea while also stemming that country's military provocations, such as a nuclear test and a ballistic missile launch.

The latest talks did not go beyond "a frank exchange of views" regarding China's self-serving maritime advances, either.

Trump urged Xi to abide by international rules and stop trying to turn the South China Sea into a military foothold. If the Chinese leader insisted his country has no intention of pursuing the militarization of the area, that claim would be unreasonable.

Read also: Tension mounts as North Korea warns of nuclear attack

The two leaders agreed to revamp the US-China ministerial-level Strategic and Economic Dialogue, thereby creating a new framework focusing on four areas: diplomacy and security; the economy; cybersecurity; and society and culture.

It was also agreed that a 100-day action plan seeking to reduce the US trade deficit with China would be devised.

The series of agreements can be viewed as an indication of the present circumstances, in which there is no choice but to put off dealing with individual pending issues facing the two nations, such as correcting their trade imbalance and addressing China's cyber-attacks. It is not easy to resolve them quickly.

With a quinquennial National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party scheduled for this autumn, Xi's top priority had been to emphasise to the Chinese that his country has stable relations with the United States.

He must be assured that the latest talks have turned out just as he expected.

The Trump administration has been unable to decide on its policy toward China, as it has been delayed in making key personnel decisions. This may partly explain why there are a noticeable number of issues on which China can deal with the United States at its own pace.

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