North Korea at center of Tillerson visit to Beijing

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
BEIJING
Published 29.09.2017 21:35

U.S. Secretary of State of Rex Tillerson will visit Beijing over the weekend and meet with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Tillerson's visit is taking place amid escalated tensions between the U.S. and North Korea as the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program has entered a new, dangerous phase as its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump exchange personal insults and threats of war with no sign of a diplomatic solution.

Apart from North Korea, Wang and Tillerson are expected to discuss bilateral ties and details of the U.S. president's upcoming visit to China that is scheduled for November.

During the visit, Tillerson is expected to increase pressure on Beijing to fully implement the latest U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea and take further steps to limit crucial oil supplies. China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea's foreign trade. The country announced last week that it will limit energy supplies to North Korea and will stop buying its textiles in accordance with the U.N. Security Council sanctions adopted after the hermit state's sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3. According to Chinese officials, the country fully complies with the U.N. sanctions on North Korea, and on Sep. 28, the Chinese government ordered North Korean-owned businesses to close by early January. This move is considered the latest step in complying with the sanctions.

In the meantime, Chinese officials do not want the North Korea issue to dominate Tillerson's visit and would like focus on Trump's first visit to Beijing. Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, who is currently in the U.S., also made this intention clear. "Beijing will work with the United States to ensure U.S. President Donald Trump's first state visit to China is successful," she said in Washington on Sept. 28.

While the U.S. administration continues its tough criticism on China concerning trade policies, the last meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that took place in April was considered successful.

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