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Welcome boost from China to global pressure on North Korea

13 August 2017
Welcome boost from China to global pressure on North Korea

"We warn North Korea not to test or misunderstand the will of the South Korea-U.S. alliance". Trump is only the latest USA president to choose sanctions instead of confronting the North militarily or offering diplomatic talks without nuclear concessions. USA officials and United Nations diplomats say the threat of unilateral U.S.

Earlier Sunday, China pressed North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear tests, saying Pyongyang should not "provoke worldwide society's goodwill".

Even as they celebrate a diplomatic victory in persuading China and Russian Federation to sign on to cutting new sanctions, the USA and other countries are deeply concerned that failure to rigorously enforce them could significantly blunt their impact.

The diplomatic wrangling sought to build on the sweeping new North Korea sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council a day earlier — the strongest in a generation, the USA said.

In private diplomatic conversations, the USA has been telling Beijing that the North's weapons development will eventually spread instability in the region, an argument that plays to China's strong preference for policies that preserve long-term stability and the status quo. It has a strategically located US air base, a Navy installation that includes a submarine squadron, a Coast Guard group and roughly 6,000 USA military service members.

In Manila, Tillerson said he hoped the North would "choose a different pathway and when the conditions are right, that we can sit and have a dialogue". But a commentary in the ruling party's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Washington had disregarded the warning the North sent with its intercontinental ballistic missile tests and was pursuing "desperate efforts" in the form of stepped-up sanctions.

There was no direct reaction from North Korea to Mr Tillerson's remarks, but in a statement after the US Secretary of State made his comments, Pyongyang responded robustly to the new sanctions by saying it was ready to teach the United States a "severe lesson" if it attacked.

"Now the USA mainland is on the crossroads of life and death", the commentary warned.

The U.N. penalties aim to cut off roughly $1 billion of North Korea's estimated $3 billion in annual exports, by banning countries from importing its coal, iron, lead and seafood products, and stopping them from letting in more North Korean laborers, who help Kim's government by sending cash home.

Whatever the economic pain on Pyongyang, Kim's government has expressed no interest in negotiating away its fast-growing arsenal of perhaps 20 nuclear bombs and the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them. China, North Korea's main trading partner, has pledged to enforce the new sanctions but some critics are skeptical given what is widely seen as Beijing's lax policing of existing restrictions.

Yet despite deeming North Korea a top security threat, the young Trump administration has struggled to find a strategy that differs significantly from what the USA has tried in the past.

But now, China argues, it's time for other nations to do their part.

Trump's initial optimism about China's willingness to help gave way to public exasperation, with Trump saying Chinese President Xi Jinping had "tried" but that it "has not worked out". "With his approval ratings falling even with his base, Trump is trapped between the realities of dealing with China and his campaign promises to get tough on trade". And China joined the 15-0 vote in the Security Council on the new sanctions. "It is China", Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said Sunday. "Right now, our focus is on carrying out the existing sanctions and ensuring compliance with the new U.N. Security Council resolution", a senior White House official told Reuters on Tuesday, adding there was "nothing imminent to announce" on secondary sanctions. "It is also China".