Tillerson sets the tone for Trump in Asia

The two sides are preparing for a summit meeting between Xi and his USA counterpart, President Donald Trump, the first time the two will meet. Ted Yoho, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said Tuesday that Chinese entities continue to play an active role in Pyongyang's weapons development.

"Tillerson admitted the failure of the USA efforts to denuclearize the DPRK for 20 years and end of Obama's policy of "strategic patience" during his recent tour", the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in the dispatch that ran late Monday, quoting the unnamed Foreign Ministry official.

With the THAAD deployment already in motion, China has been intensifying its retaliation against South Korea across sectors from trade and retail to culture and tourism.

One Beijing-based Western diplomat said it was in Xi's interests to be nice to Trump for now as China does not want any distractions or external instability ahead of a tricky leadership transition at a key Communist Party congress in Beijing, likely in October.

Even Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing in January that China had offered "empty promises" to pressure North Korea but had failed to do so, and that it had "proven a willingness to act with abandon in the pursuit of its own goals".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speak give a press conference in Seoul, March 17, 2017. China resents being pressed to do more, saying the problem is between North Korea and the United States, although it too objects to the North's nuclear programme.

U.S. relations with China have been rocky, with China irritated at repeatedly being told to rein in the North.

But this was a minor mistake compared with the Obama administration's 2013 embrace of Chinese President Xi Jinping's proposal for a "new model of great power relations" between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese authorities have also closed almost two dozen retail stores of South Korea's Lotte Group amid the diplomatic standoff. He met with South Chungcheong Gov. Britain, the closest U.S. ally, which remains determined to exit the European Union became a founding member of China's AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) a year ago leaving the United States visibly isolated.

Yun stated that THAAD is meant exclusively as a response to North Korea, and that it "does not target any specific third country". "I don't believe we have ever fully achieved the maximum level of action that can be taken", he said.

As for economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council, Tillerson called for even tougher penalties. Chinese banks continue to help North Korea trade in US dollars, as do the regime's own shell companies.

South Korea's trade minister said on Monday that the country had complained to the WTO.

The secretary was doubling down on remarks he made on March 16 in Tokyo, where he offered an unusually blunt critique of previous US administrations. Asked whether this option was under consideration, Tillerson repeated that "all options are on the table", adding: "We think it's important that everyone in the region has a clear understanding that circumstances could evolve to the point that for mutual deterrence reasons, we might have to consider that".

A nervous Japan is looking to shore up security ties not only with the USA but Russian Federation as well.

The latest liftoff followed the North's launch of four ballistic missiles early this month, and experiment of a new high-thrust rocket engine Saturday which was deemed as a step toward a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Russian Federation also opposes the system, for the same reasons.

"Although I anticipate that there will be competition between the two countries in many areas, it is imperative that cooperation prevails when it comes to the vital issues of the day, which include dealing with climate change, assuring that nuclear weapons are never used, and combating terrorism and all forms of conflict", he said. Further provocative moves by the Kim regime could make it tougher for the big players to tiptoe around their policy disagreements.

  • Leroy Wright