President Donald Trump told the Financial Times on Sunday that the United States would act alone against North Korea if it does not receive support from China regarding nuclear weapons. Trump made his statement right before a scheduled visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago this week.
Trump said in the interview that he and Jinping would discuss the situation in North Korea because China has influence over that country. He added that if China chose to help the U.S., it would be a “very good” thing, but if it decided not to assist, then it would be bad for the whole world.
While trade is the primary motivation for China to cooperate with the U.S., Trump said he was prepared to act alone against North Korea if he needed to. When the Financial Times asked Trump how he would go about that, he replied that he could not say because it would be bad policy to discuss such matters publicly.
China gives economic and diplomatic assistance to North Korea but admitted that its influence in that country is limited. The U.S. and China have had a tense relationship since Trump claimed during his campaign that China was engaging in unfair trade policies. He later threatened China with higher import taxes while claiming that Beijing was manipulating currency. Trump has not yet acted against China, and it is unclear whether he will do so.
United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley told This Week, an ABC news program, that the United States is pressuring China to stand against North Korea and its nuclear program. The United Nations has so far not been able to stop North Korea from conducting missle and nuclear weapons tests. Haley said China is the only country that can stop North Korea, and it must cooperate. Ash Carter, a former defense secretary, said that cooperation was unlikely.
Carter told ABC that he has been involved with the North Korea issue for the last 23 years, and while China has the history and financial relationship to be a large influence in North Korea, they have not used it. He said that fact alone makes him unoptimistic for China’s help now or in the future.