US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Chinese efforts to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear program have failed, ratcheting up the rhetoric over the death of a US student who had been detained by Pyongyang.
Trump has held high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his assistance.
“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump said on Twitter.
It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the US struggle to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test launching of missiles or a change in US policy toward China.
On Tuesday, a US official, who did not want to be identified, said US spy satellites had detected movement at North Korea’s nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance, but it was unclear if these were preparations for a new nuclear test — perhaps to coincide with high-level talks between the US and China in Washington yesterday.
North Korea last tested a nuclear bomb in September last year, but it has conducted repeated missile tests since and vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the continental US, putting it at the forefront of Trump’s security worries.
The Trump tweet about China was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of yesterday’s Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, in which US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis were to meet with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) and Chinese People’s Liberation Army Chief of Joint Staff General Fang Fenghui (房峰輝).
The US Department of State has said the dialogue would focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, but also cover areas such as counterterrorism and territorial rivalries in the strategic South China Sea.
The US is expected to press China to cooperate on a further toughening of international sanctions on North Korea. The US and its allies would like to see an oil embargo and bans on North Korea’s airline and guest workers among other moves, steps diplomats have said have been resisted by China and Russia.
Trump has hardened his rhetoric against North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died on Monday in the US after returning from captivity in North Korea in a coma.
In a White House meeting with visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticized the way Warmbier’s case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, former US president Barack Obama.
“What happened to Otto is a disgrace and I spoke with his family. His family is incredible ... but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment” and urged Pyongyang to release three other Americans who are detained.
Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times said Chinese officials must be wary of Warmbier’s death pushing Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing.
“China has made the utmost efforts to help break the stalemate in the North Korean nuclear issue, but by no means will China, nor will Chinese society permit it to, act as a ‘US ally’ in pressuring North Korea,” the Global Times said in an editorial.
If Washington imposes sanctions on Chinese enterprises, it would lead to “grave friction” between the two countries, the newspaper said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big