Tillerson to face Chinese ire over blame for N.Korea tensions

By REUTERS
March 18, 2017 07:29
1 minute read.
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BEIJING  - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in China on Saturday for what is likely to be a prickly visit, with Beijing angry at being told to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea and Washington repeatedly demanding it do more to control Pyongyang.

China is also expected to voice its strong opposition to this month's deployment of a sophisticated US missile defense system in South Korea.

Tillerson issued the Trump administration's starkest warning yet to North Korea on Friday, saying that a military response would be "on the table" if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and US forces.

He was speaking in South Korea, the second leg of his first visit to Asia since taking office. He was previously in Japan.

In Beijing, he may raise the prospect of imposing "secondary sanctions" on Chinese banks and other firms doing business with North Korea in defiance of sanctions, a US official told Reuters in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday that North Korea was "behaving very badly" and accused China, Pyongyang's neighbor and only major ally, of doing little to resolve the crisis over the North's weapons programs.

The state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said on Saturday that it was in China's interests to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions but to suggest China cut the country off completely was ridiculous as it would be fraught with danger.

"Once there is chaos in North Korea, it would first bring disaster to China. I'm sorry, but the United States and South Korea don't have the right to demand this of China," it said in an editorial.

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