President Trump 'disappointed in China' over Pyongyang trade, missiles

ANGELOS BERBERAKIS
ISTANBUL
Published 30.07.2017 20:50
Updated 30.07.2017 20:52
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, April 7.
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, April 7.

Tensions between the US and China over North Korean missile launches continue to intensify

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to criticize Chinese inactivity over the ongoing missile tests conducted by the North Korean regime.

"I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!" the president tweeted.

The Trump administration's policy on Pyongyang has thus far consecrated not only around a significant show of force but also on cooperation with China.

Apparently falling in line with the American strategy, China did slash imports of North Korean coal earlier this year. However, according to a Chinese government official, trade between Beijing and Pyongyang is up by about 10 percent compared to the same period in 2016 when it was worth about $2.6 billion in the first half of 2017.

After the figures were out, Trump tweeted: "So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!"

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also warned earlier this month that countries which continue to - and even encourage - trade with North Korea in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions will most likely not be able to continue trading easily with the U.S.

Due to the latest missile test though, the U.S. and its allies say that they are once again ready to bring military might to the table.

"North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability" said General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, adding that if need be, the U.S. and its allies are prepared to use "rapid, lethal and overwhelming force."

Subsequently, the U.S., South Korean and Japanese air forces spent 10 hours conducting jet-bomber drills with B-1Bs. On the other hand, Japanese F-2s and South Korean F-15s joined the American bombers in the air, in a show of aerial supremacy over the Korean peninsula.

"Our air force maintains the precision-strike capability and readiness to burn the enemy's missile base and its key facilities, including its leadership stronghold on the ground," South Korean Air Force Operations Commander Lieutenant General Won In-cheol said in a statement carried by local news agency Yonhap.

"If the enemy provokes, we will respond immediately and retaliate powerfully," he added.

According to the Pentagon, North Korea conducted launches of inter-continental ballistic missiles on July 3 and July 28. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, has claimed that the country's new rockets are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

The Russian military's intelligence, however, has said that the missiles are actually of intermediate range.

Washington's new policy on North Korea has put Beijing in a peculiar place. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed his willingness to work with President Trump and try to resolve the North Korean issue, China wants to avoid toppling the rogue regime, fearing for regional stability.

"If Trump were to give up on Chinese support in terms of containing North Korea, then there would be the risk of increased trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which could negatively impact China's overall export performance," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

"The new figures that the customs bureau has put out today suggest [that they] have made an effort, at least on paper," he added.

While the North Korean news agency reported that the missile, known as Hwasong-10, travelled 998 kilometers before landing off the peninsula, the Russian military's missile warning system gave different numbers, saying that it flew 732 kilometers, thereby being classified as an IRBM rather than an ICBM, which would require it to fly for 10,000 kilometers or more.

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