Trump chastises China over North Korea trade
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.
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.