Chinese President Xi Jinping told reporters while meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Beijing last week that he expects President Donald Trump’s visit to the country to be “special” and “wonderful,” an outpouring of positive sentiment at odds with the consistent criticism of the United States in communist state media.
“His visit will be a major opportunity for the development of China-US relations,” Xi told Tillerson on Saturday, according to the Chinese state publication People’s Daily.
“China attaches great importance to President Trump’s visit, and I look forward to working with him to outline and advance our bilateral relations in the years to come,” he continued, predicting the visit will be “special, wonderful, and successful” and “the most important event in the bilateral ties currently.”
Xi’s friendly words follow a similar tone out of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who praised America on Friday for having “consecutively sent the positive signals that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, in the final analysis, should be resolved politically through dialogue and consultation.”
“We hold an encouraging attitude to this. The Chinese side agrees with the Four Nos promise which has been reiterated by the US side many times. We hope that the US side can translate these commitments into concrete actions and that the DPRK can work for the shared goal,” Lu added.
The “Four Nos” policy refers to a comment Secretary of State Tillerson made in August in which he promised that American does “not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel.”
President Trump announced last week that he would visit China—along with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines—in November. He is expected to attend a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose several last meetings have significantly concerned China’s expansion into the sovereign territory of other South China Sea nations.
“President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security” during his Asia tour, according to a White House statement.
While Trump’s presence at the ASEAN meeting with largely revolve around regional territorial disputes, the global struggle to contain North Korea will be paramount on the list of issues Xi and Trump will need to discuss, and China’s about-face on positive comments towards America follows a move to shut down North Korean business in the country and repeatedly complaints from the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un that China has not fulfilled its responsibility as an ally.
Last week, Beijing announced that it would shut down all North Korean businesses within its border, effective in 120 days, in order to comply with United Nations sanctions. China had also implemented a prior round of sanctions on North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead ore, lead, and seafood but has not supported a potentially crippling ban on North Korean oil.
In response, North Korean state media have accused China of betraying their fellow communist autocracy. “Some media of China are seriously hurting the line and social system of the DPRK and threatening the DPRK at a time when the U.S. and its vassal forces have reached the extremes in their frantic moves to impose sanctions and pressure on the DPRK over the DPRK’s just exercise of its right to self-defence,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency wrote on September 22, referring to the state-controlled People’s Daily among others.
The piece accuses China of “going under the armpit of the U.S. while holding a white flag to blame the good neighbor” and claims China owes North Korea for its support during China’s initial nuclear tests.