BEIJING: Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work hard and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis during talks in Beijing Thursday, warning that “time is quickly running out”, reports AFP.
Speaking on the second day of a trip to Beijing marked by pomp and pageantry, Trump also decried China’s “one-sided and unfair” trade surplus with the United States but told Xi “I don’t blame China”, as the two countries signed more than $250 billion in business deals.
Xi hosted Trump at the imposing Great Hall of the People, next to Tiananmen Square, for the main event of the US president’s five-nation tour of Asia.
While the two leaders exchanged pleasantries in keeping with their professed friendship—with Trump calling Xi a “very special man”—the former property magnate made clear that he expected China to do more to rein in North Korea.
“We must act fast. And hopefully China will act faster and more effectively on this problem than anyone,” Trump said, while thanking Xi for his efforts to restrict trade with Pyongyang.
“China can fix this problem easily and quickly, and I am calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard,” the US leader said.
“I know one thing about your president: If he works on it hard, it will happen. There’s no doubt about it.”
The US administration thinks China’s economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
Xi said the two countries reiterated their “firm commitment” to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the implementation of UN resolutions.
He also repeated his plea for the issue to be resolved through negotiations, saying China was ready to discuss the “pathway leading to enduring peace and stability on the peninsula”.
Though China has backed UN sanctions, US officials want Chinese authorities to clamp down on unauthorised trade along the North Korean border.
But experts doubt China will take the kind of steps that Trump wants, such as halting crude oil exports to the North. Beijing fears that squeezing Pyongyang too hard could cause the regime to collapse.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there are signs that sanctions are “creating some stress within the North Korean economy” but that Xi told Trump they could take “a little while” to have an effect.
Trump, who may meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an APEC summit in Vietnam on Friday, also urged Russia to “help rein in this potentially very tragic situation”.
Washington has made no secret of its frustration at China’s massive trade surplus with the United States, but at a signing ceremony for over $250 billion in US-Chinese business deals—including $37 billion worth of planes from Boeing—Trump said he did not blame Beijing.
“After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the sake of its citizens?”
However, he pointed the blame at past US administrations “for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow”. The Trump administration has aggressively pursued trade remedies in commercial relations with Beijing—investigating Chinese trade practices on intellectual property and in aluminium and steel.
“There has been some friction on bilateral trade,” Xi said. “But on the basis of win-win cooperation, we hope we can solve these issues in a consultative way”.