China hails Sino-US contacts after Tillerson visit

Tillerson said during his visit to South Korea days earlier that "if they [North Korea] elevate the threat of their weapons program" to an unacceptable level, then the United States may be forced to take preemptive action. But in a sign of the challenges that remain, hours after the discussion, North Korea defiantly announced it had tested a rocket engine that its state media said had "historic significance".

The official Xinhua news agency noted Tillerson's comments in Seoul that military options against Pyongyang were on the table.

In his New Year's address in January, Kim said North Korea had "entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile".

But the United States has already rejected Wang's proposal of the so-called "double suspension".

Tillerson himself said the USA was open to the possibility of a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea, before touching down in China.

Xi told Tillerson that China considered his meetings on Saturday with Foreign Ministry Wang Yi and top diplomat Yang Jiechi to have been productive and constructive.

The US side stands ready for more high-level exchanges, and more dialogue in diplomatic security, macroeconomic policy coordination, law enforcement, cyberspace and people-to-people exchanges. On Friday in Seoul, he warned ominously that all options were on the table to counter the threat from Pyongyang.

The promises of mutual understanding and friendship came despite disagreements between the two nations on trade, global relations and other issues - and as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to make critical comments about China.

Tillerson said the United States side adheres to the one-China policy and is willing to explore more cooperation in the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. "I express my appreciation for this", Xi said in a meeting with Tillerson on March 19 at the Great Hall of the People.

Mr Xi added that he had spoken to the U.S. president several times.

"We both believe that China-US cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for".

China has proposed double suspension formula under which United States and South Korea should stop aggressive military exercises and North Korea should stop nuclear weapons programme, which drew lukewarm response from Washington.

Mr Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Trump has been a frequent China critic, and the encounter could be crucial to setting the tone in the big-power relationship.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that North Korea was "behaving very badly". Due to China's economic support, "strategic patience" never resulted in an end to the illegal North Korean nuclear program.

The trip followed a string of North Korean missile launches, which escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula and prompted fears Pyongyang is preparing for another nuclear test.

  • Leroy Wright