Monday, 25 September, 2017

China talks focusing on North Korean threat

US tries to use better China ties to press North Korea China, US to hold first diplomatic, security dialogue tomorrow
Craig Ferguson | 25 June, 2017, 02:18

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said China is in agreement with the USA for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abide by the United Nations Security Council resolution.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the American people are growing increasingly frustrated over the government in North Korea that "provokes, provokes and provokes".

USA and Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs have begun talks in Washington that are expected to focus on the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea.

US lawmakers are pressing for a tough response against Pyongyang over its treatment of the 22-year-old university student, who was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting with a tour group and was convicted of subversion.

The White House on Wednesday pushed China to put pressure on companies doing business in North Korea in an effort to halt the latter's nuclear missile program.

President Donald Trump has been counting on China to use its economic leverage with North Korea's totalitarian government. "At least I know China tried!"

Despite global condemnation and sanctions, North Korea has built a small nuclear arsenal and is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that could threaten Japan, South Korea and - one-day - even some USA cities. South Korea's Defense Ministry said the bombers engaged in routine exercises with its fighter jets aimed at deterring the North.

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On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will welcome State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of Chinese army staff, to the State Department. The U.S. side says North Korea will get "top billing" in the discussions.

Last week, Tillerson told a Senate hearing that China's efforts on North Korea had been "uneven". But the Chinese president's signature foreign policy initiative was overshadowed by the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile. "For example, we both agreed that our companies should not do business with any United Nations -designated North Korean entities in accordance with these resolutions", he said.

Beijing, which wants resumed USA negotiations with North Korea, was hoping for "positive outcomes" from Wednesday's dialogue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. This year's edition separates out the security aspects.

According to the spokesman Geng Shuang, during Wednesday's meeting in Whashington, the United States and China will discuss mainly the Korean peninsula, maritime affairs and the fight against terrorism.

"If North Korea really does have respect for the concerns of President Xi, would it have tested its military hardware on the opening day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing?"

Last month, Beijing and Washington signed a limited deal to open new markets for each other's exports and a long-standing friend of the Chinese leadership, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, was confirmed as ambassador. Such a move risks fraying relations between the world's two biggest economies.

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