Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has urged US President Donald Trump to peacefully resolve tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program as the US president touted the power of a naval “armada” steaming toward the Korean Peninsula.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that the two leaders had spoken by telephone, days after Trump sent the aircraft carrier-led strike group to the region in a show of force ahead of another possible nuclear test.
The deployment was followed by a renewed warning that Washington was ready to take on North Korea alone if Beijing declined to help rein in its maverick neighbor’s nuclear ambitions.
Pyongyang has issued a defiant response, saying it is ready to fight “any mode of war” chosen by the US and even threatening a nuclear strike against US targets.
The saber-rattling has unnerved China, which has made clear its frustration with Pyongyang’s stubbornness, but whose priority remains preventing any military flare-up that could bring chaos and instability to its doorstep.
In the telephone call, Xi stressed that China “advocates resolving the issue through peaceful means,” the ministry said.
On Tuesday, the US president tweeted that “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
A barrage of North Korean missile tests has stoked US fears that Pyongyang might soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.
There is speculation that the nation could be preparing a missile launch, or even another nuclear test, to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said: “We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”
The flotilla includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said it was “irresponsible and even dangerous to take any actions that may escalate the tension.”
“All relevant parties should exercise restraint and keep calm, easing tensions instead of provoking each other and adding fuel to the fire,” he said at a regular press briefing.
Pyongyang has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and analysis of satellite imagery suggests it could be preparing for a sixth.
China’s Global Times said a new test would be a “slap in the face of the US government” and that Beijing would not “remain indifferent.”
“Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang’s new nuclear actions,” it said, adding there was increasing popular support for “severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before.”
The language suggested China could restrict oil imports to North Korea, after already announcing a suspension of all coal imports until the end of the year.
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