Bellicose Trump adds more fuel to his ‘fire and fury’ war of words
BEIJING: China should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the US, a Chinese staterun newspaper said yesterday, sounding a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.
The comments from the influential Global Times came after US President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea on Thursday, saying his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.
Trump issued another warning to North Korea yesterday with a reference to American weapons as being “locked and loaded”.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong- un will find another path,” Trump tweeted.
Asian equity markets sank again yesterday and European stocks looked set for their worst week this year because of the tensions.
“This situation is beginning to develop into this generation’s Cuban missile crisis moment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note.
“While the US president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution.”
China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, has reiterated calls for calm.
Beijing has expressed frustration with Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and with behaviour from South Korea and the US, such as military drills, that it sees as escalating tensions.
China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated a call for all parties to speak and act cautiously and do more to ease the situation, rather than going down the “old path” of exchanges of shows of force and continually rising tension.
North Korea’s state- run KCNA news agency said its army would complete plans this month to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near Guam.
Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not going to get away with his “horrific” comments and disrespecting America.
“Let’s see what he does with Guam.
“He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey, without offering specifics.
Shortly after he spoke, US Defence Secretary James Mattis told reporters the US still preferred a diplomatic approach to the North Korean threat and that a war would be “catastrophic”.
Asked if the US was ready if North Korea made a hostile act, he said: “We are ready”.
Tension in the region has risen since the reclusive North staged two nuclear bomb tests last year and launched two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month in defiance of world powers.
Trump has said he would not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US.
On Guam, a tropical island more than 3 000km to the southeast of North Korea, residents remained sanguine.
“We’re just gonna sit down and barbecue here and have fun,” said Peter Toves, 47, a Guam native who rents out kayaks and jetskis.
“There’s nothing that we can do, just wait,” said Toves – Reuters