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China responds to Trump tweet

Foreign ministry statement calls U.S. leader ‘irresponsible’  PLAY AUDIO

Aug 27,2018
China on Saturday rebuked U.S. President Donald Trump for a Friday tweet that claimed Beijing wasn’t “helping with the process of [North Korean] denuclearization as they once were,” calling it “irresponsible” in unusually stern terms.

“The US side made these remarks in total disregard of basic facts. We are gravely concerned about this irresponsible act and has lodged stern representatives with the US side,” said Lu Kang, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry in an English-language statement Saturday.

It came less than a day after Trump called off Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the North Korean capital sometime next week, citing lack of progress on the denuclearization talks.

Trump contended Beijing had not been helping the U.S. enforce and maintain strict economic sanctions on the North as it used to because of the ongoing trade dispute between it and Washington. “Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place),” Trump tweeted Friday.

It didn’t take long for Beijing to renounce Trump’s remark, stressing it had been “playing an important and constructive role and comprehensively and strictly implementing the DPRK-related resolutions of the Security Council. All these efforts are witnessed by the international community,” said the foreign ministry spokesperson.

The DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The official continued to urge relevant parties in the North’s denuclearization process to “stick to the direction of seeking a political settlement” and “accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns, and demonstrate more sincerity and flexibility.”

In a direct jab at Trump, the official urged all parties to refrain from “flip-flopping and shifting blame to others,” apparently referring to Trump’s tweet accusing Beijing of going soft on the North.

“China will keep in close contact with all relevant parties and continue to play a positive role in realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and enduring stability in East Asia,” the spokesman said.

Trump’s suspicion that China was standing in the way of North Korea striking a deal with the U.S. is not new. On July 9, he tweeted, “I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”

China’s rebuke Saturday of Trump’s tweet appears to show its resolve to play a central role in the North’s denuclearization process with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to Pyongyang on the occasion of the North’s 70th founding anniversary on Sept. 9.

While media reports have speculated that Xi will visit Pyongyang for the Sept. 9 anniversary, Beijing has yet to confirm Xi’s visit. If he meets with Kim, it will be their fourth meeting in six months.

It also remains to be seen if Xi will attend a military parade with Kim on Sept. 9 if he makes it to Pyongyang, a symbolic affirmation of the military alliance between the two Communist allies, which could unnerve Trump.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]


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