China and U.S. stress cooperation in wake of North Korean rocket test
In the highest-level face-to-face meeting between the U.S. and Chinese governments since President Donald Trump took office, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly avoided thorny issues and stressed the importance of cooperation.
Xi called the talks in Beijing “productive.” Tillerson, who was there for his final stop on a six-day Asia tour, said Trump looks forward to visiting China and places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred.”
In addition to navigating tensions over China’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea that began during the Obama administration, the two countries have had a rocky relationship since Trump took office in the wake of his criticism of China on issues ranging from monetary policy to the South China Sea to its dealings with North Korea.
And predictably, North Korea took the opportunity to amplify its own saber-rattling, announcing shortly before the meeting in Beijing that it had successfully run a ground test of a powerful new missile engine.
On Friday, Trump chastised China on Twitter for having “done little to help” contain North Korea.
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years. China has done little to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
And anonymous diplomatic sources told the New York Times that Tillerson may have more closely adopted his boss’s tone during his visit behind the scenes.
“I believe Tillerson repeated in the meetings what he said publicly in South Korea and Japan,” a Chinese diplomat reportedly said.
Tillerson had met with leaders in Japan and South Korea in the days leading up to his trip to China. In Seoul on Friday, he suggested that a “pre-emptive strike” against North Korea should be on the table.