Tensions Rising: White House Considers Increased Pressure on China over North Korea

FILE - In this Saturday, July 8, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The United States apologized for mistakenly describing Xi as the leader of Taiwan, China said Monday, …
Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked Tuesday whether the Trump administration is considering sanctioning China to increase pressure on the country to take action against North Korea’s nuclear program.

“With North Korea continuing to escalate nuclear tensions, can we expect any actions from the administration to ratchet up pressure on China?” she was asked:

While Sanders initially responded that the White House will not broadcast such movements before they take place, she did express that the United States will continue working with its allies and partners.

“And again, the goals are to stop the nuclear program, stop the missiles, stop the aggression with North Korea. We’re going to continue looking at the best options and ways to accomplish that,” she added.

Sanders would not comment at the time on what some of the options might be.

On July 29, Trump tweeted twice, expressing his deep disappointment in China regarding North Korea. He stated that China had done “NOTHING” and announced, “We will no longer allow this to continue”:

The tweets came one day after North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile test; however, this one may indicate North Korea is now within striking distance of being able to hit the United States.

China hit back against Trump’s tweets. China’s Foreign Ministry urged all parties to work together and defend themselves, stating that China did not spur the North Korea nuclear issue, according to ABC News.

Trump had also expressed frustration with China on July 5 when he tweeted, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!”

Weeks earlier, Trump tweeted, “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

Trump had been negotiating with China to put pressure on North Korea. He hosted China’s President Xi Jinping at his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort in April for their first in-person summit. Following the meeting, he urged China to help intervene in the rising hostility of North Korea. He qualified the request by indicating that the U.S. would act if China would not.

In late June, the U.S. Treasury Department announced financial sanctions on two Chinese nationals and a Chinese shipping company on the basis that they had ties to North Korea. The same day, the Trump administration revealed that the U.S. would make a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana. 


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