U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Beijing Saturday, seeking China’s cooperation on a “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea’s nuclear aggression amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
He is scheduled to meet with top Chinese officials — President Xi Jinping, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi — and focus on how to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The talks will also include preparations for U.S. President Donald Trump’s first visit to China in November.
The U.S. is conferring closely with Chinese officials on Beijing’s commitment to curbing imports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood.
If fully implemented, the ban on those items could substantially reduce North Korea’s revenues this year. North Korea had earned $1.5 billion from the export of these items to China in 2016, according to the State Department.
China is North Korea’s No. 1 trade partner. Washington says bringing China on board is key to cutting off Pyongyang’s ability to earn hard currency.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Asia Program director Douglas Paal said, however, China’s influence over North Korea is limited.
“The North is very reluctant to take instructions from China. It will exploit whatever it can get from China, but it doesn’t look for political guidance from China. So this is a problem we [the U.S.] and South Korea are going to have to handle directly with North Korea as we go forward,” Paal told VOA.
VOA’s Nike Ching contributed to this report.
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