Washington: US President Donald Trump has declared he would be willing “to go it alone” to restrain North Korea’s nuclear weapons program should China fail to change the situation, a media report said.
Trump said if Beijing won’t help solve it, then “we will” alone, CNN reported.
“China will either decide to help us with North Korea or they won’t,” Trump said in an interview published Sunday in the Financial Times.
“If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone,” Trump said.
Trump’s administration has repeatedly emphasised its high concern over the North Korean nuclear threat.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited China in March to press North Korea’s neighbour for help in mitigating that threat.
Trump is also scheduled to host Chinese President Xi Jinping this week in the US, where he intends to bring the issue up, CNN said.
On the campaign trail and since taking office, Trump has argued China is responsible for the continued nuclear proliferation in North Korea.
He said in his Financial Times interview that he planned to talk with Xi about that situation and use trade as “the incentive” to talk China into fixing it.
Trump has repeatedly said he would take aggressive action against China to reduce the US trade deficit with the country.
But if the talks with Xi do not produce Trump’s desired result of getting Beijing to solve the North Korean nuclear problem, Trump said the US would take action.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Trump told the Financial Times.
Asked to clarify if he believed the US could solve the problem without China, Trump said: “Totally”.
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US should “no longer take the excuses from China that ‘they’re concerned’.”
“They need to show us how concerned they are… the only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that,” she said.
The US maintains that China has not done enough to apply financial pressure given that Beijing is North Korea’s only real ally and accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s trade, CNN said in its report.
China has repeatedly said that its influence over North Korea has been overstated, and the US and South Korea should stop antagonising Pyongyang with its annual military drills.
Thousands of US and South Korea troops are currently engaged in the Foal Eagle joint annual drills that finish on April 30.
“On one hand, North Korea has violated UN Security Council resolutions banning its ballistic missile launches; on the other hand, South Korea, the US — and now Japan — insist on conducting… military drills,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a press briefing.
“It’s a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control — and such a scenario would benefit no one,” Hua said.
Beijing has proposed a “double halt” approach that would see North Korea suspend its nuclear program, while the US and South Korea would call off joint military drills, the CNN report said.
The US has already dismissed the plan.
In a briefing, Mark Toner, the acting State Department spokesman, said: “There’s no equivalence between North Korea’s illegal missile and nuclear activities and what is our lawful, longstanding joint security exercises with our allies in the region.”