China envoy says North Korea trade growth picture ‘distorted’


Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States Cui Tiankai speaks during the “China and the U.S.: One Belt, One Road and 100-Day Plan,” a discussion hosting high-level delegation of Chinese leaders, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 14, 2017.

David Brunnstrom

(In this July 11 story, adds wording in paragraph 5 to show that Cui said Chinese imports from North Korea dropped in April and May.)

By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s ambassador to the United States has said reports of trade growth between his country and North Korea, in spite of international efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, give “a distorted picture.”

Last week U.S. President Donald Trump denounced China’s trade with North Korea, saying it had grown almost 40 percent in the first quarter, and cast doubt on whether Beijing was helping to counter the threat from North Korea.

Data released in April showed China’s trade with North Korea grew 37.4 percent year on year in the first quarter, in spite of a ban on coal imports China announced in February.

“This is a distorted picture,” China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said in a speech to a Washington think tank on Monday.

Cui said bilateral trade declined in 2015 and 2016, and Chinese imports from North Korea dropped by 41 percent in April and 32 percent in May as a result of the coal import ban.

At the same time, Cui stressed that U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea did not constitute an embargo. “Normal trade … is not banned by these sanctions,” he said.

The Chinese embassy released a copy of Cui’s speech, originally delivered in an off-the-record setting, on Tuesday.

Cui said China backed further U.N. action against North Korea for violations of U.N. resolutions such as nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

He did not though make clear whether China believed North Korea’s latest missile test last week, which the United States described as a first ICBM test, was of that type of missile.

Diplomats say the United States is aiming for a vote within weeks to strengthen U.N. sanctions on North Korea over the test, but Russia has objected to a Security Council condemnation of the launch as a U.S.-drafted statement labeled it an ICBM.

Cui said sanctions were necessary, but could not solve the North Korean problem alone. He repeated a call for Washington to back a Chinese “suspension for suspension” proposal under which North Korea would freeze weapons testing in return for suspension of U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

Washington says the exercises are needed to maintain defenses against North Korea and U.S. officials say Beijing could face U.S. economic and trade pressure unless it does more to rein in North Korea.

Washington is expected to press the issue when senior U.S. and Chinese officials meet on July 19 to discuss bilateral economic issues.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish

Source: Reuters “China envoy says North Korea trade growth picture ‘distorted’”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China says ‘China responsibility theory’ on North Korea has to stop


The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

China hit back on Tuesday in unusually strong terms at repeated calls from the United States to put more pressure on North Korea, urging a halt to what it called the “China responsibility theory”, and saying all parties needed to pull their weight.

U.S President Trump took a more conciliatory tone at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, but he has expressed some impatience that China, with its close economic and diplomatic ties to Pyongyang, is not doing enough to rein in North Korea.

That feeling has become particularly acute since Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts believe could have the range to reach Alaska, and parts of the U.S. West Coast.

Asked about calls from the United States, Japan and others for China to put more pressure on North Korea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it was not China ratcheting up tension and the key to a resolution did not lie with Beijing.

“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory,'” Geng told a daily news briefing, without naming any parties.

“I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility,” he added.

China has been making unremitting efforts and has played a constructive role, but all parties have to meet each other half way, Geng said.

“Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves is not OK,” he added. “Being stabbed in the back is really not OK.”

While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, it also blames the United States and South Korea for worsening tension with their military exercises.

China has been upset with the U.S. deployment of an advanced anti-missile system in South Korea too, which it says threatens its own security and will do nothing to ease tensions.

Additionally, Beijing has complained about Washington putting unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals for their dealings with North Korea.

Geng questioned how China’s efforts could bear fruit if, while it tried to put out the flames, others added oil to the fire, and if, while it enforced U.N. resolutions, others harmed its interests.

Everyone needed to accept their responsibilities to get the North Korea issue back on the correct track of a peaceful resolution through talks, he added.

“The ‘China responsibility theory’ on the peninsula nuclear issue can stop,” Geng said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “China says ‘China responsibility theory’ on North Korea has to stop”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Quiet success for China at G20 as Xi avoids drama and spotlight


FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/ Pool/File Photo

By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING Mon Jul 10, 2017 | 9:23am EDT

From U.S. anger over inaction on North Korea to a festering border dispute with India and the ailing Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, last week’s G20 summit was strewn with minefields for China’s President Xi Jinping.

By chance or by strategy, Xi and his officials picked their way through unscathed.

Beijing is ultra-sensitive about Xi’s image and ensuring he gets the respect it sees as his due as leader of an emerging superpower, especially when traveling to Western countries where it cannot so tightly control the public narrative.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing, speaking ahead of Xi’s trip to the G20 gathering in the German city of Hamburg, said Chinese officials had in private expressed nervousness that he could be asked awkward questions about North Korea, or the cancer-struck Liu, jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power”.

In the end it was U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid accusations Russia interfered in the U.S. election, and Trump’s refusal to return to the Paris climate agreement that dominated the limelight.

Xi, by contrast, avoided controversy in his bilateral meetings and reaffirmed China’s commitment to the Paris deal and to an open global economy, in what the official China Daily called the “burnishing of (his) reputation”.

“Nobody talked about the South China Sea. No one talked about trade. Everyone was happy with Xi. I think he played this well,” said Ulrich Speck, senior fellow at the Elcano Royal Institute in Brussels.

“All eyes were on Trump and Putin. But the fact that there was no U.S.-China clash was at least as important. Xi stayed out of the alpha-male fight. China presented itself as a partner to Europe.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Xi “made it clear that the G20 should adhere to taking the path of open development and mutual benefit leading to all-win results, support a multilateral trade mechanism, and promote international trade and investment”.

“China was in a good place at G20, with reasonable policies,” said Jin Canrong of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, who has advised the government on diplomatic matters.

“So President Xi was comfortable and positive there.”

DON’T MENTION TAIWAN

Potentially the biggest test was Xi’s meeting with Trump, who in the run-up to Hamburg had voiced frustration over China’s inability to rein in its troublesome erstwhile ally, North Korea.

In the event, Trump returned to the conciliatory tone struck at their first meeting in April, telling the Chinese leader it was “an honor to have you as a friend” and he appreciated actions Xi had already taken to try to dissuade North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Influential Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Monday that the Xi-Trump meeting had defied “the naysayers in the West”.

“Beijing and Washington saw friction on issues including Taiwan and the South China Sea ahead of the meeting, and there was speculation from Western public opinion that the China-U.S. ‘honeymoon’ had come to an end. But the Xi-Trump meeting repudiates such speculation,” the paper said.

Speaking to reporters later on Air Force One, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump-Xi meeting lasted more than an hour-and-a-half, and would have gone on longer had they not had to leave for other engagements.

Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat now with the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry, said Xi was much more upbeat than when he spoke to Trump a few days ahead of G20 and mentioned certain unnamed “negative factors” in their relationship.

“Even on trade Trump underscored that he wants cooperation,” Ruan said.

China’s biggest concern had been U.S. policy toward self-ruled Taiwan, after the Trump administration approved a $1.42 billion arms package for Taiwan, claimed by China as its own.

Neither government mentioned Taiwan in their respective accounts of their G20 meeting.

Chinese officials were at pains to point out their good relations with the new administration in Washington.

Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao told reporters in Hamburg that the Chinese and U.S. teams dealing the bilateral financial relationship clearly understood that both would be hurt by fighting with each other.

“Our strength is communicating every morning and every evening. This is unprecedented,” Zhu said.

NO DRAMA, FOR NOW…

On India, where China has over the past few weeks accused New Delhi of provocation by sending troops across the border in a disputed region, Xi avoided drama by not having a formal bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though India’s foreign ministry said they did speak.

Even on Liu Xiaobo, Xi avoided being put on the spot, with China on Saturday allowing a U.S. and German doctor to meet him at his hospital in northeastern China.

Still, the faultlines remain in the tricky China-United States relationship.

China may respond more assertively if, for example, more Chinese entities are sanctioned by the United States over North Korea or Trump raises barriers to Chinese goods as he has frequently threatened, said a senior Beijing-based Western diplomat.

“China has been restrained so far in reacting to Trump, but that is unlikely to last,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Things are gearing up to be a summer of drama between China and the United States.”

(Additional reporting by Gao Liangping in Beijing, Roberta Rampton in Washington and Noah Barkin in Hamburg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source: Reuters “Quiet success for China at G20 as Xi avoids drama and spotlight”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Trump keeps it friendly with Xi at G20 on North Korea threat


U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb, Pool

By Jeff Mason | HAMBURG Sun Jul 9, 2017 | 9:07am EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump took a conciliatory tone on Saturday at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping where the leaders agreed to keep working on two pressing issues: the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and bilateral trade irritants.

Trump campaigned in last year’s presidential election on cracking down on China for its trade practices, but he softened his rhetoric after taking office, saying he wanted to work with China on the nuclear issue.

When the two leaders first met in April at Trump’s Florida resort, they appeared to hit it off. Trump called Xi a “good man” as he urged him to use Beijing’s economic clout to force North Korea to curb its nuclear weapons program.

Lately, Trump has expressed some impatience on China’s role in North Korea – particularly after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts believe could have the range to reach Alaska, and parts of the U.S. West Coast.

His administration made new arms sales to Taiwan, imposed sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company and put China on a global human trafficking list. It also accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang.

The White House is also debating trade actions against Beijing, including tariffs on its steel exports and a few days before the G20 talks, Trump complained that trade between China and North Korea had grown.

But he showed none of that impatience on Saturday, when the leaders met at the invitation of Xi at the tail end of the G20 in Germany.

“It’s an honor to have you as a friend,” Trump told Xi, telling him he appreciated actions he had already taken on North Korea.

“As far as North Korea is concerned, we will have, eventually, success. It may take longer than I’d like. It may take longer than you’d like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other,” Trump said.

Speaking to reporters later on Air Force One, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump-Xi meeting lasted over an hour-and-a-half, and they had “substantive discussions” about how to deal with North Korea together.

“In regards to China, we had very direct discussions about North Korea. We had very direct discussions about military and security cooperation,” Mnuchin said.

“I think that President Trump made very clear to President Xi that he is focused on this issue, and wants to move forward and make progress. And I think President Xi gave a very interesting perspective from their standpoint,” he added.

‘CONTROL THE SITUATION’

For his part, Xi told Trump that stronger China-U.S. ties were conducive to stability and prosperity amid global conflicts, and had made “new progress” in some areas “despite some sensitive issues”, Xi said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Xi stressed the importance of talks with North Korea, and said China’s navy will join next year’s U.S.-led Pacific Rim military exercises.

Xinhua said Xi stressed to Trump China’s position that it adheres to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there.

While China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests, it also blames the United States and South Korea for worsening tension with their military exercises.

“China has many times talked about its principled position, namely that at the same time as the international community making necessary responses to North Korean acts that go against U.N. Security Council resolutions, they must step up efforts to promote talks and manage and control the situation,” Xinhua said, citing Xi.

Xi also reiterated China’s opposition to the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, Xinhua said. China says THAAD threatens its security, despite U.S. and South Korean assurances it is aimed only at defending against North Korea.

Both leaders agreed to maintain close communication and coordination on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, Xinhua said.

In a statement released on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Xi and Trump had “enhanced mutual understanding” about the North Korea issue and “confirmed the broad direction of using peaceful means to resolve this issue”.

Trump also mentioned trade imbalances in his meeting with Xi, calling it a “very, very big issue” that he would address.

“I know that China in particular, which is a great trading partner, we will be able to do something that will be equitable and reciprocal,” Trump said.

Senior officials from both countries will meet in Washington on July 19 to discuss economic and trade issues.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Alistair Bell and Himani Sarkar)

Source: Reuters “Trump keeps it friendly with Xi at G20 on North Korea threat”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Japan, South Korea, U.S. demand greater Chinese effort on N.Korea


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July, 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed on Thursday to push for China to play a larger role in reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, a Japanese official said on the eve of a summit of the Group of 20 economic powers.

North Korea’s launch this week of what it said was a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile dramatically raised the stakes in the long-running battle to contain the isolated country’s nuclear weapons program.

“North Korea now constitutes a new level of threat to Japan and a clear provocation to Japan and also to the international community,” said Norio Maruyama, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, after a meeting of the three countries’ leaders.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In agreed at the meeting to cooperate closely to encourage China to “play an even greater role” in containing its southern neighbor.

“We had very vivid conversation on the subject and the role of China was very important” during the 75-minute meeting, Maruyama said, adding that Japan was closely monitoring Chinese companies it suspected of having links to North Korea’s weapons program.
“Abe conveyed Japan’s appreciation for the sanctions the U.S. decided to impose on Chinese organizations,” he said. “The Japanese government has been monitoring the movements of Chinese companies with deep ties to North Korea and responding appropriately” by imposing asset freezes.

Asked whether any military action was discussed, he said: “There is no discussion about the specificity of other measures we could take”.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Paul Carrel; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Source: Reuters “Japan, South Korea, U.S. demand greater Chinese effort on N.Korea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Trump denounces China trade with North Korea, casts doubt on cooperation


U.S. President Donald Trump denounced China’s trade with North Korea on Wednesday and cast doubt on whether Beijing is working with Washington to counter the North Korean nuclear threat.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 pct in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump said in a Twitter post.

Even before Pyongyang said on Tuesday it had successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump recently suggested he was running out of patience with China’s modest steps to pressure North Korea and has been considering moving ahead on trade actions.

Analysts said the latest missile could put all of the U.S. state of Alaska in range for the first time.

Trump posted the tweet shortly before leaving for Warsaw, Poland, on his way to a Group of 20 summit in Germany on Friday and Saturday.

“We’re going to do very well,” Trump said in response to shouted questions as he left the White House.

During his trip, Trump will meet for the second time with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he has expressed frustration for failing to use enough leverage to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

Trump spoke with Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – the leaders of Asia’s two largest economies – about the threat posed by North Korea, the White House said on Sunday.

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and ally.

Data released in April by Beijing showed China’s trade with North Korea grew 37.4 percent in the first quarter this year from the same period in 2016, according to reports in the New York Times and Financial Times. Chinese exports surged 54.5 percent and imports increased 18.4 percent, according to the reports citing China’s General Administration of Customs.

However, that data reflects only one month of China’s Feb. 26 halt of North Korean coal imports, which has crimped Pyongyang’s ability to raise hard currency through exports.

The General Administration of Customs said on June 23 that imports of North Korean goods in May fell by more than 30 percent from a year ago, the latest sign that China’s ban on coal purchases from the isolated country continues to curb trade between them.

The world’s second-largest economy bought goods worth $123.8 million in May from North Korea, down 31 percent from a year ago and third lowest on record from June 2014, according to data from the Chinese agency.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: Reuters “Trump denounces China trade with North Korea, casts doubt on cooperation”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Russia and China tell North Korea, U.S. and South Korea to embrace de-escalation plan


Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping walk past honour guards during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia July 4, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia and China joined diplomatic forces on Tuesday and called on North Korea, South Korea and the United States to sign up to a Chinese de-escalation plan designed to defuse tensions around Pyongyang’s missile program.

The plan would see North Korea suspend its ballistic missile program and the United States and South Korea simultaneously call a moratorium on large-scale missile exercises, both moves aimed at paving the way for multilateral talks.

The initiative was set out in a joint statement from the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries issued shortly after President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held wide-ranging talks in the Kremlin.

“The situation in the region affects the national interests of both countries,” the joint statement said. “Russia and China will work in close coordination to advance a solution to the complex problem of the Korean Peninsula in every possible way.”

North Korea said on Tuesday it had successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.

Russia and China both share a land border with North Korea and have been involved in past efforts to try to calm tensions between Pyongyang and the West.

Moscow and Beijing used the same joint declaration to call on Washington to immediately halt deployment of its THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, a move Washington says is necessitated by the North Korean missile threat.

The statement said Washington was using North Korea as a pretext to expand its military infrastructure in Asia and risked upsetting the strategic balance of power in the area.

“The deployment … of THAAD will cause serious harm to the strategic security interests of regional states, including Russia and China,” the statement said.

“Russia and China oppose the deployment of such systems and call on the relevant countries to immediately halt and cancel the process of deployment.”

(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin/Vladimir Soldatkin/Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Source: Reuters “Russia and China tell North Korea, U.S. and South Korea to embrace de-escalation plan”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.