Tillerson Visit To Show How China Plans To Deal With The US

The United States will work with Japan and South Korea to try to stop North Korea from advancing its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday at the start of his first official trip overseas.

Tillerson is making his first trip to Asia as the top USA diplomat.

Tillerson will arrive in Tokyo late on Wednesday for the start of a trip that will be closely watched by those trying to assess how well a former Exxon Mobil executive, who had previously never held public office, can navigate complex and tense diplomatic situations with huge security and economic stakes.

And then at the weekend, there will be his much anticipated trip to Beijing, amid reports that Tillerson will seek to finalise plans for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to visit Trump in April.

Citing the continued North Korean missile launches this year, Tillerson said that "in the face of this ever-escalating threat it is clear that a different approach is required". However, neither Tillerson nor Kishida gave specific details about what that might entail during their news conference. He says the country's main ally is key to solving the problem. For instance, Tillerson said in January that Beijing should "not be allowed access" to its new, artificial islands in the South China Sea, an area particularly sensitive for Beijing given its high animus toward USA sea and air maneuvers near its borders. But how can Tillerson get Beijing on the same page as the U.S.to diffuse the threat?

"But this is a chance to lay down a marker on what we would need from China and to hear from them what they would want to see in return".

"American leaders are concerned that elections in South Korea might produce a president opposed to THAAD, but unless that happens, the deployment will go forward", Carpenter said, referring to the upcoming election in South Korea following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

"North Korea and its people need not fear the USA or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea", Tillerson said.

The secretary of state said Thursday China plays a very important role in efforts to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, and he encouraged China to fully implement United Nations sanctions meant to pressure the North Korean government.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week that efforts to convince China to pressure North Korea were the "looming challenge" in trans-Pacific relations.

He further pledged the US commitment to defending Japan and other allies "is unwavering".

China has tried to broker a deal; calling on the North to halt its missile program in exchange for the USA and South Korea ending joint military exercises that are now underway.

Tokyo is also considering beefing up its ballistic missile defences with a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system or Aegis Ashore, a land-based version of the missile defence system used at sea.

But many analysts doubt Beijing will uphold the ban, given the instability it could create on China's borders.

  • Leroy Wright