image

North Korea

China slams ‘absurd logic’ from US after Trump accuses Beijing of blocking North Korea denuclearisation

Strong response comes after Trump says Beijing is putting North Korea ‘under tremendous pressure’, causing lack of progress in negotiations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 4:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 9:49pm

China on Thursday derided the “irresponsible and absurd logic” of the United States after President Donald Trump accused Beijing of making Washington’s relationship with North Korea more difficult.

Trump had earlier threatened a resumption in war games around the Korean Peninsula “far bigger than ever before” and blamed Beijing again for a lack of progress in getting Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme.

“A lot of people, like me, feel that the US is first in the world when it comes to twisting the truth, and irresponsible and absurd logic,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing. “This logic is not easily understood by all.”

In a series of tweets, Trump had projected mixed messages on his administration’s relations with China and negotiations with North Korea, simultaneously expressing respect for the two countries’ leaders, but warning them to fall in line with Washington’s objectives.

“President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government,” Trump said on Twitter.

“We also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertiliser and various other commodities. This is not helpful!”

Within the same four tweets, Trump said Washington’s trade war with Beijing “will be resolved in time by President Trump and China’s great President Xi Jinping” and that “the President believes that his relationship with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un is a very good and warm one”.

“We hope the US can play a positive and constructive role in settling the issue just like the Chinese. To solve the problem, it should look at itself instead of shifting blame,” Hua added.

Trump’s hot-and-cold tone on two of his administration’s most pressing geo-political fronts reflects the erratic diplomatic efforts around these issues in recent months. A trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was called off by Trump last week, just a day after it was announced.

As with the most recent tweets, Trump blamed China for his decision to cancel Pompeo’s trip, saying that Beijing is holding back denuclearisation with inaction and that his top diplomat would likely return to North Korea after US trade disputes with China were resolved.

I don’t like to call it a trade war
US President Donald Trump

Two days of talks between the United States and China in Washington last week concluded with no concrete steps toward ending the bilateral trade war that started last month.

The lack of any progress lowers the chances that growing opposition to the trade war from many US business groups will prevent the rift from harming the entirety of the bilateral trade relationship.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) has been phasing in tariffs since July 6 and Trump has threatened to slap them on all of China’s exports to the US if Beijing continues to retaliate.

Meanwhile, a lack of specific measures by Kim to mothball North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has put more pressure on Trump to justify his decision to indefinitely suspended select military exercises on the Korean Peninsula as a gesture of goodwill, after the two leaders held a summit in Singapore in June.

Speaking in the third person on Twitter in what he called a White House statement, Trump said: “[The] President can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea, and Japan, if he so chooses. If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before.”

US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday said America does not plan to suspend more joint military drills amid reports that North Korea was rejecting American demands to give up nuclear warheads.

The US has conducted military exercises on the Korean peninsula since the mid-1950s and holds a handful of joint operations with South Korea every year, which the Pentagon calls a means of ensuring the two forces are able to work together in the event of an attack.

The annual drills, separate from regular training programmes, have long angered North Korea’s leaders.

With additional reporting by Bloomberg News and Agence France-Presse.