Trump's Flub Sparks Anger on Korean Peninsula, But Not Where You'd Expect

Jane Richards
April 23, 2017

The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology. By sending US government officials to over twenty entities in the region, including the Bank of China, the Administration sent a clear and effective diplomatic message that significantly impacted North Korea's access to the global financial system.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday that North Korea's rhetoric was provocative, but he has learned not to trust it.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its military was ready to respond to American aggression.

The concern began several days ago, when the Trump administration fueled what became the widespread perception that a powerful USA aircraft carrier group was speeding to the region - an apparent show of force in response to recent nuclear and missile provocations by North Korea.

"If China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will", Mr Pence said.

One of China's top North Korea scholars, Kim Dong-jil, director of the Center for Korean Peninsula Studies of Peking University, said he had not heard of new restrictions on fuel to pressure Pyongyang, but said they are considered to be an option.

Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his resort in Florida earlier this month and, while taking a hard line with North Korea, has focused his efforts on trying to convince China to put more pressure on its ally and neighbour.

Seoul and Beijing are at loggerheads over the deployment of the USA missile defence system THAAD to the South to guard against threats from the North, infuriating China, which sees it as weakening its own capabilities.

The U.S. had accused Russian Federation of blocking a council statement on Wednesday that China, North Korea's closest ally, had agreed to by insisting on including language from previous council statements calling for "dialogue" with Pyongyang. None of the United States officials who told Reuters about the heightened level of activity by Chinese bombers suggested alarm or signalled that they knew the precise reason for such activity.

The North conducted two nuclear bomb tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, defying Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing, and it has conducted additional missile tests this year, including the latest one on April 15 that failed.

Pence said an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, heading for waters off the Korean peninsula would be in the Sea of Japan within days. A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry likewise expressed "gratitude" for the Trump administration's "fuller and more correct understanding of China's policy and position".

The comments sparked an angry reaction from Seoul and became an issue in South Korea's presidential race, prompting the foreign ministry to seek to verify what Xi actually said.

"Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington's newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it", the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

Other reports by VgToday

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