US Threatens Trade With China As North Korea Tests New Missiles

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. is still pinning its hopes for a solution for the crisis on the Korean Peninsula on China, pressuring Beijing to do more to rein in its nuclear neighbor.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to cooperate on North Korea in April, but now the two sides are arguing about whether China has upheld its end of the deal. The president suggested that he would offer China better trade deals for help on North Korea, but now U.S.-China trade is threatened.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that if China continues to “hold Kim Jong-un’s hand,” the U.S. might cut certain trade ties with China. She remarked this is “one of the ammunition options we have on the table.”

“We do a lot of trade with a lot of countries,” Haley explained to CBS News’ John Dickerson on “Face the Nation” in response to questions of whether the U.S. would really consider targeting U.S.-China trade over the North Korea issue, “If there is a country that we don’t think is looking out for our security and looking out for our confidence in that, then yes.”

She commented that the U.S. and its international partners are determined to take a strong stance on North Korea, which has dangerous nuclear weapons and is rapidly developing the capabilities to deliver them to targets around the world.

“We’re going to push hard not just on North Korea, we’re going to push hard on other countries who are not abiding by the resolutions and not abiding by the sanctions against North Korea,” she said. “And we’re going to push hard against China because 90 percent of the trade that happens with North Korea is from China and so while they have been helpful, they need to do more.”

“We need the pressure on North Korea and China has the ability to do it,” Haley added.

The U.S. envoy to the U.N. first threatened Chinese trade in the immediate aftermath of North Korea’s ICBM test. Some “countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States,” Haley said last Wednesday. “That’s not going to happen. Our attitude on trade changes when countries do not take international security threats seriously.”

China announced plans for the suspension of North Korean coal imports in February, and after the heads-of-state meeting Mar-a-Lago in April, China ordered non-compliant companies to return all of the North Korean coal brought into Chinese ports. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reported at one point that North Korea has not tested another nuclear weapon because of pressure from Beijing, although it is unclear whether North Korea backed down or simply didn’t have plans for a nuclear test.

Tillerson said last month though that Chinese efforts have been “uneven.”

“Our expectations have been very clear with the Chinese. Their cooperation, I would say, has been notable, but it has been uneven,” the secretary of state said in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The ICBM tested last Tuesday was carried to the launch site on a heavy truck illegally procured from China. Furthermore, the Department of Treasury continues to identify Chinese nationals and firms cooperating with North Korea in violation of sanctions.

Trump has also grown frustrated with China, criticizing the country on Twitter for its trade with North Korea and snidely commenting, “So much for China working with us.”

China, however, argues that its efforts are “clear for all to see” and asserts that it is neither the cause nor crux of the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. As Washington states that the window for diplomacy is closing, Beijing continues to call for dialogue and de-escalation.

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