China pushed back hard Tuesday in response to demands that it could do more to rein in North Korea.
The U.S. and its allies have been increasingly shifting the burden of responsibility for the growing North Korean nuclear threat onto China, urging it to pressure the rogue regime into abandoning its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them to distant targets and halting regular weapons testing.
“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory,'” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing Tuesday. “I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility.”
He said that China has been making clear efforts to reduce tensions, but added that all parties need to pull their weight to resolve this issue.
“Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves is not OK,” Geng explained, adding, “Being stabbed in the back is really not OK.” The statement appears to be a reference to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to sanction Chinese companies and citizens for doing business in North Korea in violation of international sanctions prohibiting such activities. The Chinese foreign ministry may also be attacking U.S. partners, which have pressured Beijing in recent weeks.
President Donald Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago in April, and the two leaders agreed to cooperate on North Korea. Since then, North Korea has tested new short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as well as a new intercontinental ballistic missile that experts assess can strike targets in the U.S.
The U.S. and China are now arguing over whether China has done enough.
Trump, who previously tweeted that he had confidence in China’s ability to resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, sent out a message on Twitter shortly after North Korea’s ICBM test criticizing China for trading with the regime.
“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” the president explained.
The U.S. has also threatened bilateral trade between the U.S. and China if the latter continues to engage North Korea.
Some “countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday. “That’s not going to happen. Our attitude on trade changes when countries do not take international security threats seriously.”
Despite Chinese protests, China remains North Korea’s largest benefactor, with roughly 90 percent of all North Korean trade linked to China.
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