Diplomatic mystery: Tillerson's 23 words on North Korea's missile launch

Even though we hear sometimes that China's political influence may have diminished with North Korea, clearly its economic leverage has not.

The country had a failed test-launch in late March, but earlier in the month had fired four missiles toward Japan, the closest coming 190 miles from the coast, Reuters reported.

The White House said Trump and Xi would hold meetings and a dinner on Thursday, then gather again Friday for more discussions and a working lunch.

Japan, the USA and South Korea now face a greater threat from North Korea than ever, as a Wednesday missile test paired with Pyongyang's growing nuclear capabilities push them to rethink their options for protecting themselves.

Trump's rhetoric was seen as an example of weak leadership on Twitter, where users mocked the president for being less than assertive in the face of escalating threats.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a trade-weighted basket of six peers, was slightly down on the day at 100.48.DXY, as slumping U.S. Treasury yields also gave investors little incentive to buy the greenback.

Since former President Richard Nixon opened trade with China, it has become one of our country's most important, albeit tense, trade relationships.

Trump warned this week: "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will".

On trade, there may be more room for manoeuvre. "Now, what I would do is I would make China respect us because China has extreme control over North Korea". Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental USA within a few years.

Over the past year, Americans stance toward China has softened, it said.

And in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Trump said he wouldn't threaten Xi with tariffs at their first meeting: "I don't want to talk about tariffs yet; perhaps the next time we meet". Trump's candor and unpredictability, combined with his veiled threats of possible sanctions on Chinese banks and even USA military action against North Korea, could provide him new leverage with Beijing. A second White House official said Tuesday that the topic may come up, though there was not expected to be any resolution. China has always been North Korea's closest diplomatic ally and trading partner, but the relationship has become strained over Pyongyang's refusal to halt nuclear and missile testing.

Keane, a four-star general who declined a role in Trump's cabinet, said: "A pre-emptive strike against launch facilities, underground nuclear sites, artillery and rocket response forces and regime leadership targets may be the only option left on the table". While submarines are a stealthy way to do that, North Korea doesn't have enough of them. "He's right to stir their anxieties on what the USA might do unilaterally if they don't act", Lord said.

North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it calls USA hostility.

The Pew survey was conducted among 1,505 respondents in the US from February 16 to March 15, 2017; the margin of error was not reported.

The greenback also remained under pressure from growing doubts over whether the Trump administration's economic proposals would boost the US economy and allow the Federal Reserve to tighten policy more aggressively. He didn't elaborate, but his administration is looking at sanctions against Chinese banks and companies that provide North Korea access to the global financial system, a move strongly backed by Congress.

Tillerson's message was for China, and Xi Jinping as he comes to the U.S. this week on his first state visit with the new administration. About 30 states imported at least $1 billion more in Chinese goods than they exported, according to data from the International Trade Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

  • Leroy Wright