Donald Trump explained USA position on THAAD to Xi Jinping: South Korea

President Donald Trump pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program and help reduce the gaping USA trade deficit with Beijing in talks on Friday, even as he toned down the strident anti-China rhetoric of his election campaign.

"We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China", Mr. Trump said on Friday morning, appearing with Mr. Xi after a round of discussions in Florida. China has increased pressure and imposed restrictions on some South Korean companies doing business in China, which led many in the South to believe Beijing was retaliating against the deployment of the missile system.

"President Trump noted the challenges caused by Chinese government intervention in its economy and raised serious concerns", Tillerson said.

Trump briefed Xi about Thursday's strike, the first US military action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and the Chinese leader showed understanding that "such a response was necessary when people were killing children", Tillerson said at a press briefing with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The U.S. administration's first recourse is very likely to be economic - pushing China to crack down on Chinese banks and companies said to provide North Korea access to the global financial system.

For Xi, who is entering a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in the fall, the meeting with Trump was more about stabilizing the critical U.S.

"We recently have had in-depth and lengthy communications to this end and arrived at many common understandings, the most important being deepening our friendship and building a kind of trust in keeping with the Sino-US working relationship and friendship".

Ross declined to say whether the United States was ready to designate China a currency manipulator, however, referring to an upcoming report in which that issue would be addressed.

After the summit at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Tillerson told reporters that Trump and Xi came to an agreement on North Korea.

Trump's barnstorming presidential campaign previous year appeared to set him on course for conflict with China, which he accused of rigging forex markets and cheating at trade to steal American jobs.

Bilateral trade and the threat from North Korea's nuclear ambitions dominated the talks on the first day of their first summit that was overshadowed by the American military action in Syria on Thursday night.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday that Trump will travel to China at an "early date" in 2017 but gave no details.

The results fall short of high expectations that Trump would press Xi hard to solve the North Korea problem as the only country that has any meaningful influence over Pyongyang.

It was unclear if the "bad problems" include North Korea.

"We have been treated unfairly and have made awful trade deals with China for many, many years". North Korea is developing missiles capable of hitting the United States.

The Trump administration has shown increasing impatience with the North, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson openly mentioning the possibility of using military options during a trip to South Korea last month. Not long after dinner the USA announced the missile barrage on an air base in Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack against civilians.

  • Larry Hoffman