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How will US-China diplomatic dialogue narrow gap over N Korea?

Jun 24. 2017
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By The Japan News
Asia News Network

If China truly aspires to work in partnership with the United States, it must strengthen the pressure being applied on North Korea and put the brakes on Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development. The United States must tenaciously continue urging China to take such action.

Cabinet ministers from the United States and China have held the first meeting of the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. This dialogue was established under a framework decided during a US-China summit meeting held in April.

North Korea-related issues were a major focus of this dialogue. However, the talks did no more than reaffirm both nations would fully implement UN Security Council sanctions resolutions imposed on North Korea, and agree that US 

and Chinese companies should 

not do business with any North Korean companies subject to these sanctions. That Washington and Beijing even had to mention the obligations expected of every UN member nation only highlights the width of the gap between them.

After the meeting, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “We 

reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater ... pressure on the [North Korean] regime.”

The United States is also believed to be considering imposing its own financial sanctions on Chinese companies that do business with North Korea. 

This could be an effective way 

to make China, which has been reluctant to restrict its supply of crude oil to North Korea, begin to take action at last.

US President Donald Trump had put US-China trade friction aside and tried to coax greater cooperation from China on North Korea issues. He recently showed his discontent at the lack of results by tweeting, “it has not worked out”. It seems Trump’s efforts have missed the mark.

Produce concrete results

North Korea has repeatedly fired ballistic missiles. A US student detained in North Korea was released in a coma and died after returning to the United States. As a situation in which Washington and Pyongyang can seek out dialogue becomes more distant, it seems tightening the net around North Korea has become even more necessary.

Even during the latest bilateral dialogue, China insisted on finding a resolution through talks. It is unacceptable that China continues to economically support the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while allowing Pyongyang’s dangerous military provocations to go unaddressed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has attached great importance to the stability of ties with the United States ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress this autumn. Xi must be aware that failure to produce results on North Korea issues could possibly tip the US-China relationship from one of cooperation to one of confrontation.

Discussions on South China Sea issues also went nowhere. The United States called on China to halt the militarisation of man-made islands in this sea, but China 

stubbornly insisted it would protect its “territorial sovereignty and 

maritime rights and interests.”

China is constructing facilities including runways and hangars for fighter planes on the islands. The U.S. government should step up the frequency of operations in which US military vessels sail near the man-made islands and clearly show its stance of not accepting China’s 

unilateral possession of the islands.

Trump and Xi will hold talks again on the sidelines of July’s summit meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 major nations and regions. Rather than making every effort to give a staged show of 

cooperation, both leaders must 

produce some concrete results.

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