President Donald Trump suggested on July 9 that Beijing may have responded to Washington’s tariffs on Chinese goods by pressuring North Korea to issue a sour media statement about its talks with America’s top diplomat.
In a lengthy statement issued on July 7, shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two-day, the communist regime accused the United States of making unilateral “gangster-like demands” and called Washington’s stance “regrettable.” Despite the negative sentiment, Pyongyang expressed willingness to abide by an agreement signed by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo brushed the negative comments aside during a press briefing in Tokyo on July 8 and again in Afghanistan on July 9, saying that the two sides made progress during the talks. Trump reminded Kim about the agreement signed in Singapore last month.
“I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”
I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner. Last week, Washington levied duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing responded with tit-for-tat tariffs on American products.
One day prior to Trump’s message, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes that China is behind North Korea’s latest shift in tone.
“I see China’s hands all over this. We’re in a fight with China,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday.”
“If I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We’ve got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade.”
The United States depends on China to enforce crippling sanctions against North Korea. Most of goods enter North Korea through the Chinese border. Trump has previously thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for tightening the border, but has recently suggested that China has relaxed its control of the boundary.