Rex Tillerson arrives for tricky first China visit

Posted March 19, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told China's President Xi Jinping that President Donald Trump looks forward to visiting his country, and to enhancing understanding between the states. "We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures".

The President's comments come after a warning from American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that military action by the USA will be "on the table" if North Korea elevates its threat level.

On Friday, Tillerson issued the Trump administration's clearest warning yet to North Korea, reports news agency Reuters, saying in Seoul that a military response would be "on the table" if North Korea took action to threaten South Korean and USA forces. North Korea conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests a year ago, according to the Associated Press.

South Korea and the United States say the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is aimed exclusively at defending the South against a growing North Korean missile threat.

Asked about the possibility of using military force, Mr Tillerson told reporters "all of the options are on the table".

Tillerson said that the US has provided $1.3 billion in resistance to the authoritarian regime since 1995, but "in return North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons and dramatically increased its launches of ballistic missiles to threaten Americana and our allies". During their talks, the two are expected to share ideas on a new approach to North Korea.

Yun also said a USA anti-missile system that South Korea is deploying is only meant to defend against North Korea, not any other country.

'We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the directions we are both striving for. "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.

China has stridently opposed the deployment of a US missile defense system to South Korea, saying its X-band radar can peer deep into China to monitor flights and rocket launches.

In turn, Chinese leaders had been expected to accuse the US of aggravating tensions and warn that Washington has attempted a more coercive approach toward North Korea in the past, to no avail.

The divergence in views on North Korea is one indication of the problems that remain in China-U.S. relations, despite a concerted effort by both sides to stabilize ties over the past few weeks.

"We have in-depth discussions on arranging a recent meeting between two presidents and starting relevant preparations", Wang said, adding that the two sides agreed to keep close communication to ensure a successful meeting between the two presidents as well as exchanges at other levels in the next stage. "The U.S. and South Korea have never put this much pressure on North Korea or responded in such a direct way before".

His comments to IJR reflect some of Tillerson's previous statements on North Korea.

Chinese state media reiterated on Friday that the main problem was between the United States and North Korea, and denounced what it called the "throwing of dirty water" at China by Washington and Seoul. "We hope all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a coolheaded and comprehensive fashion, and arrive at a wise decision".

Earlier this month, North Korea had launched several missiles which fell into Japanese waters, drawing sharp criticism from Japan, South Korea and the US.

Last week it launched four more ballistic missiles and it is believed to working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

Tillerson then went to the Joint Security Area, where blue buildings straddle the border and USA and South Korean forces face their northern enemies at close quarters.