China hails Sino-US contacts after Tillerson visit

Washington and Beijing agree to work together on North Korean crisis

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday (March 19) criticized North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he was, "acting very, very badly." Trump was speaking to reporters while departing his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he spent the weekend.

 

Chinese president Xi Jinping said meetings in Beijing with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson had made “good progress” and heralded a “new era” of understanding in Sino-US relations.

China and the US would work together to resolve the nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, he said. Mr Xi is reportedly set to meet his US counterpart in Florida next month.

“We both believe that China-US cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Mr Xi said in remarks posted by the Chinese foreign ministry after the meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Mr Xi continued.

China and the US must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, he said.

Sino-US relations have been strained since president Donald Trump came to power, with the Chinese irritated by his tweets saying China was not doing enough to help resolve the North Korean crisis.

On Friday Mr Trump tweeted: “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!”

The Chinese are also upset at his apparent overtures to self-ruled Taiwan, which China sees as part of its territory, his belligerent tone on trade issues, his criticism of China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, as well as the siting of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea.

Mr Tillerson’s tone was far less aggressive, saying Mr Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred.”

He was speaking at the end of his East Asian tour.

In South Korea on Friday, Mr Tillerson issued the starkest threat to date against North Korea, which has been testing missiles and atomic weapons in defiance of international sanctions, when he said that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from its weapons programme reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

Mr Tillerson said after meeting foreign minister Wang Yi that the US and China would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take “a different course”.

There were reports from Pyongyang’s state news agency that North Korea had conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station, hailed by leader Kim Jong-un as “a new birth” of its rocket industry.