Trump chas­tises China over North Korea trade

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump chas­tised China on Wed­nes­day for do­ing too lit­tle to starve North Korea of funds and ex­ert pres­sure over its nu­clear pur­suits, as his ad­min­is­tra­tion searched for new ways to con­front Py­ongyang af­ter its un­prece­dented test of a missile ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the U.S.

North Korea’s launch this week of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic missile demon­strated a dan­ger­ous new reach for weapons it hopes to top with nu­clear war­heads one day. As the U.S. de­mands global ac­tion to counter the threat, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is find­ing that some of the most ob­vi­ous tools to in­crease pres­sure on the North have al­ready been tried and failed.

Trump, since en­ter­ing the White House, has placed a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on push­ing China — North Korea’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner — to use its in­flu­ence and ramp up eco­nomic pres­sure. Trump ex­pressed op­ti­mism af­ter his first meet­ing with China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping that the two would work to­gether ef­fec­tively on the is­sue, but in re­cent days Trump has in­creas­ingly con­ceded the strat­egy has not pro­duced fast re­sults.

“Trade be­tween China and North Korea grew al­most 40% in the first quar­ter,” Trump wrote on Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day, mo­ments be­fore de­part­ing for a trip to Poland. “So much for China work­ing with us — but we had to give it a try!”

As he flew to Poland on Air Force One, Trump spoke by phone about the North Korean threat with Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sisi, em­pha­siz­ing the need for coun­tries to im­ple­ment UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

The White House said Trump also dis­cussed the need for na­tions to “stop host­ing North Korean guest work­ers” — an is­sue Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son also men­tioned in his response a night ear­lier to the missile launch.

Re­strict­ing guest work­ers is one way the U.S. and other coun­tries could try to re­duce North Korea’s ac­cess to for­eign cur­rently. There are some 50,000-60,000 North Korean work­ers abroad, mostly in Rus­sia and China, South Korea’s spy ser­vice has said, in­clud­ing at about 130 restau­rants North Korea op­er­ates over­seas. The work­ers’ mis­sion in­volves earn­ing money to bring into North Korea.

Un­til this week’s launch, North Korea had demon­strated missiles of short and medium range — but not an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal missile. A Pen­tagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said Wed­nes­day that the missile was a type not pre­vi­ously seen by the U.S., al­though he would not pro­vide de­tails. He said the missile was fired from a mo­bile launcher at the Panghyon air­craft plant about 100 kilo­me­tres north of Py­ongyang, a lo­ca­tion not pre­vi­ously used for missile launches.

“This was a very provoca­tive ac­tion. It has our at­ten­tion,” Davis said. He crit­i­cized North Korea for not fol­low­ing the in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion of pro­vid­ing ad­vance no­tice of a missile launch so that com­mer­cial ships, air­lin­ers and satel­lites are not en­dan­gered.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stops briefly in front of re­porters as he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Wash­ing­ton Wed­nes­day. The Trumps are head­ing to Poland and then Ger­many for the G20.

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