Trump Says U.S. Could Act Alone on Threat From North KoreaBy and
Comments in Financial Times interview ahead of Chinese visit
Cooperation with U.S. would be ‘very good for China,’ he says
President Donald Trump said the U.S. can “totally” address North Korea’s nuclear threat unilaterally if China doesn’t cooperate to put pressure on that nation, according to the Financial Times.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump said in an interview published on Sunday. When pressed about whether he could do it one-on-one without China’s help, the president said, “I don’t have to say any more. Totally.”
The comments come ahead of Trump’s planned summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The North Korean threat is expected to take center stage at the April 6-7 talks. Trump said he’ll discuss North Korea and the scope for cooperation when he hosts the Chinese leader.
“China has great influence over North Korea,” Trump said in the interview. “And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t.” Cooperation with the U.S. “will be very good for China,” he said. If they don’t cooperate, “it won’t be good for anyone.”
China has backed North Korea since a war on the peninsula in the 1950s, in part to prevent having a U.S. ally on its border. While Beijing’s leaders have enforced some United Nations-backed sanctions on North Korea after a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests, China accounts for more than 90 percent of its total trade.
South Korean intelligence has warned that North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear bomb test in the first week of April to “overshadow” the summit between Xi and Trump.
Trump declined to reveal how he’d pursue the subject, or whether he would begin the talks with the Chinese president by bringing up North Korea and then pivoting to trade with China. He suggested a change in strategy from the past, saying his predecessors telegraphed their actions such as military strikes in the Middle East.
“I am not the United States of the past where we tell you where we are going to hit in the Middle East,” Trump said. “Why are they talking? There is no reason to talk.”
The review of options on North Korea that Trump ordered after his inauguration is complete, the FT reported, citing two unidentified people familiar with the review. It had been accelerated to have options ready for the summit with Xi, one of the people said, according to the FT.
“My guess is that this review will be more like a menu of options and that this might include negotiations,” said John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul. “If you look at what Trump actually said, he leaves all of us guessing. The surprise factor is sort of a key element in his North Korea policy.”
In the interview, Trump said while he believes in alliances and partnerships, they “have not always worked out very well” for the U.S.
The president also indicated that he would postpone a discussion with the Chinese president on tariffs until “perhaps the next time we meet.” Still, Trump offered this criticism: “When you talk about currency manipulation, when you talk about devaluations, they are world champions.”
Trump vowed during the presidential campaign to have China labeled a currency manipulator on his first day in office, which didn’t happen.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has signaled no urgency to act, saying he wants to use a regular review of foreign-exchange markets to determine whether the U.S.’s largest trading partner is cheating.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declined to address Trump’s campaign pledge during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, saying the determination lies with the Treasury Department.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday, Ross said that the U.S. is “about the least protectionist” and China is “one of the most protectionist” of major countries.
— With assistance by Dan Hart, and David Tweed