North Korea

Don’t stab China in the back over North Korea, Chinese state media tells Donald Trump

Xinhua commentary says US president wrong to attack Beijing over efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 11:24pm

Chinese state media delivered a rare rebuke aimed directly at US President Donald Trump, criticising him for avoiding responsibility for escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and warning the US not to “stab China in the back”.

The state-run news agency Xinhua ran a near 1,200-word commentary on Monday evening saying Trump has picked the wrong target in China to vent his frustration over the Korean nuclear crisis.

It also said the US should heed the message North Korea was sending through its latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday.

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“On one hand it is saying it will not withdraw from the path of strengthening its nuclear [capabilities] , on the other it is sending a strong signal that it wants to talk to the US,” the article said.

The signed Xinhua commentary restated China’s efforts to pursue denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, adding that Trump’s “hard-hitting” approach could lead to the outbreak of war with “unthinkable consequences”.

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The piece followed Trump’s statements on Twitter this weekend accusing China of doing “nothing” about North Korea, after a short-lived honeymoon period with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping following their April summit in Florida.

“I am very disappointed in China,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “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 the problem.”

It was not the first time Trump has voiced his displeasure with China over what he described as a lack of effort on its part to “solve” North Korean aggression. He also told reporters on Monday that the US would now “handle everything” on the issue.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi , said on Monday the US and North Korea hold the primary responsibility to reduce tensions and resume talks over denuclearisation.

The Xinhua commentary called for the US and South Korea to suspend joint military exercises in order to begin diplomatic dialogue. South Korea and the US are scheduled for more joint drills this month.

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“What the Korean peninsula needs is an immediate retreat, do not add wood, and definitely do not add fuel, to the fire ... it can turn into regional conflict or even war within a short time,” the commentary said.

The piece also criticised the US for sending a pair of B-1B bombers to fly over the Korean peninsula two days after North Korea’s successful missile test on Friday.

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The Xinhua commentary argued China has put in obvious and unquestionable efforts over the years to push for a solution to the North Korea nuclear issue and that the country did not have a magic wand to solve the problem.

It also pointed to China’s stake in the security of the peninsula, given that China and North Korea are linked by common mountains and rivers.

China remains North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, despite strains in their relationship in recent years. The two also signed a mutual defence treaty in 1961.

Xinhua’s commentary noted that “some people lack a complete understanding of the Korean peninsula issue” in an indirect reference to Trump, but also directly blasted Trump’s choice to use Twitter as a platform for diplomacy.

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“Trump is a character and enjoys tweeting, but an emotional response cannot be the guiding policy to solve the Korean peninsula’s nuclearisation issue,” the commentary said. “In order to solve the nuclear issue on the peninsula, related parties need to use practical action and show sincerity, stop shirking responsibility, and especially should not stab China in the back.”