30 August 2018

Trump accuses China of stalling progress with North Korea


US President Donald Trump has lashed out at China for undermining its work with North Korea, as criticism over progress on denuclearisation mounts.

In a series of tweets he also said he saw no reason to resume the joint war games with South Korea that have angered North Korea.

Days ago his own defence secretary said military exercises might continue.

China has accused Mr Trump of "shifting blame" in his comments on its relations with North Korea.

A summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June ended with a pledge from the North to work towards "the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula". Soon after Mr Trump announced there was "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea".

But since then many observers say North Korea is not moving fast enough to dismantle its nuclear or rocket sites.

Mr Trump's tweets appear to place the blame for these challenges squarely on China, but he also goes on to praise his personal ties with the leaders of both North Korea and China.

The confusing blend of criticism, praise and veiled threat comes as Washington faces mounting pressure to deliver results following those unprecedented talks.

Why take aim at China?

In his latest comments on Twitter, Mr Trump says North Korea was "under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese government".

Beijing is Pyongyang's only significant ally and is thought to have significant influence over its decisions. Beijing is also Washington's most powerful long-term strategic rival in the region.

The US and China are locked in an increasingly tense trade battle and each side has imposed tariffs on one another's goods.

Mr Trump has complained about the size of the US trade deficit with China and what Washington sees as other unfair trade practices.

Despite his strong words, Mr Trump's latest tweet concluded with some optimism, saying the trade issue could be resolved by himself and China's "great President Xi Jinping".

China has attacked Mr Trump's remarks as "irresponsible" and difficult to understand.

"To solve the problem, it should look at itself instead of shifting blame," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

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