Trump says China’s stance on North Korea influences his trade policy

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he boards Air Force One for travel to Palm Beach from Joint Base Andrews
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he boards Air Force One for travel to Palm Beach from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

December 29, 2017

By David Brunnstrom and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “been soft” on China on trade issues and said he was not happy that China had allowed oil shipments to go into North Korea.

“I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war,” Trump said in an interview with The New York Times.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump said on Twitter that China has been “caught” allowing oil into North Korea and said such moves would prevent “a friendly solution” to the crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump wrote.

In The New York Times interview, Trump explicitly tied his administration’s trade policy with China to the country’s perceived cooperation in resolving the North Korea nuclear crisis.

“When I campaigned, I was very tough on China in terms of trade. They made — last year, we had a trade deficit with China of $350 billion, minimum. That doesn’t include the theft of intellectual property, O.K., which is another $300 billion,” Trump said, according to a transcript of the interview.

“If they’re helping me with North Korea, I can look at trade a little bit differently, at least for a period of time. And that’s what I’ve been doing. But when oil is going in, I’m not happy about that.”

China earlier on Thursday said there had been no U.N. sanction-breaking oil sales by Chinese ships to North Korea after a South Korean newspaper said Chinese and North Korean vessels had been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to North Korea.

An official of the U.S. State Department said the U.S. government was aware of vessels engaged in such activity involving refined petroleum and coal.

“We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper this week quoted South Korean government sources as saying that U.S. spy satellites had detected Chinese ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels around 30 times since October.

U.S. officials have not confirmed details of this report.

The Trump administration has led a drive to step up global sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s efforts to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Washington says the full cooperation of China, North Korea’s neighbor and main trading partner, is vital to the success of this effort, while warning that all options are on the table, including military ones, in dealing with North Korea.

The U.N. Security Council last week unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, seeking to further limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.

The U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year.

It also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Security Council to further reductions if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear or ICBM test.

Documents seen by Reuters this month showed Washington called on the Security Council to blacklist 10 ships for circumventing sanctions by conducting ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels or transporting North Korean coal.

China and Russia subsequently asked for more time to consider the proposal.

The ships targeted for blacklisting were the Xin Sheng Hai (flag unknown); the Hong-Kong-flagged Lighthouse Winmore; the Togo-flagged Yu Yuan; Panama-flagged Glory Hope 1 (also known as Orient Shenyu), Kai Xiang and Billions No. 18; and the North Korean-flagged Ul Ji Bong 6, Rung Ra 2, Rye Song Gang 1, and Sam Jong 2.

In September, the Security Council put a cap of 2 million barrels a year on refined petroleum products exports to North Korea.

China has repeatedly said it is fully enforcing all resolutions against North Korea, despite suspicion in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that loopholes still exist.

Asked at a regular briefing whether Chinese ships were illegally providing oil to North Korean ships, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang reiterated that China, including the military, strictly enforced U.N. resolutions.

“The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist,” he said.

A State Department spokesman, Michael Cavey, reiterated on Wednesday that the United States had called on all countries to cut economic ties with North Korea.

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the conservative Center for the National Interest, said China would “never, ever enforce the sanctions to the satisfaction of President Trump,” in spite of the effort the U.S. president had invested in developing a personal relationship with China’s president, Xi Jinping.

“With President Trump’s latest Tweet it seems the ‘Bromance’ between him and President Xi is finally over,” he said.

“This was always bound to happen. China is actually more afraid of North Korea than America,” Kazianis said, citing Chinese concerns about instability or collapse in North Korea if sanctions were fully applied.

U.S. Democratic Senator Ed Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Twitter the North Korean threat had only increased since Trump took office and he had to find a way to get China to cut off crude oil supplies.

“The solution is a coherent strategy, not bluster,” he said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the U.N. and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

  • Darrell M.

    Ya know President Trump is not going to mess around much
    longer. This is a President that will not put up with their crap.
    China, I have some advise to you. Put up or shut up or face
    the consequences. You are forcing our hand and allowing this
    regime to exist. Don’t go cryin when we take that country out.
    They deserve it and everyone knows it.

  • NotSure

    “North Korean threat had only increased since Trump took office…” Sorry Senator Markey, but someone had to put their foot down. The threat seemed to increase after Obama started to talk about loosening sanctions and by the way, wasn’t it Obama money that had allowed them to build I.C.B.M.’s? What would you have Trump do, nothing? Or even worse throw even more money at them? Thanks to the Clinton money they are nuclear capable now.

  • Legion

    Naval Blockade .. just do it.

  • Andrew Moore8

    I have always said that buying those cheap made in china products from the likes of walmart, Target, lowes, and home depot was going to finance the war against us…..And now it looks like it is creeping closer and closer to me being right.

    • WSWSapphire

      I unsubscribed from Target’s e-mail… they keep sending anyway. 1st time a co. hasn’t honored an un-subscribe. Now I mark it spam – it’s one less place I’ll be shopping when in the U.S.
      At Walmart, will only buy if made in U.S. I have 1 item needed from Lowe’s, then I’m done there(don’t need any from H.D.) Guess I should follow up w/letters to all those, as to my latest purchasing practices, as I used to be a fairly big spender there(UK prices, even for China products, are 2-4 times higher than in U.S.)

      • NotSure

        I am sure prices in the U.K. are considerably higher. Are there sales taxes there? Also a lot more regulation and governmental burden that is being passed on to the consumer. F.Y.I. don’t forget to empty your spam folder periodically. It does take up space on Hard Drive.

      • Andrew Moore8

        I quit buying made in china and made in mexico years ago….or at least to the degree that is possible.

  • Comanche457

    If indeed these transfers are going on then we have eyes on it. Sink the ships.

  • Al Lejdly

    Why do we kick the China can down the road? The only way to fix the China/NK problem is hit them BOTH in the pocket book. Trumps should accelerate bringing manufacturing in China back home. It’s a WIN WIN situation. Keep in mind, China is about to over take our economy for world dominance. Of course that is just what the globalist swamp rats want so as to bow to the NWO.

  • 55retire

    Since none of my stuff is foul and you know why my comments are being put to spam please take 55retire off line delete from your system i am not that technical in this area. I did not realize God’s obedient servant was spam.Michael.

  • Uncle R

    When are people going to learn that N. Korea IS China? Kim Jung Un is nothing more than China’s Chia Pet…

  • Roy Beane

    Trusting China to do anything is like the guy I once knew who had a pet rattlesnake. He said he really liked his pet rattlesnake, but he NEVER EVER would dare turn his back on him, not even for a moment.

  • Dan Tandan

    communists, like demonrats and muslimes LIE to advance their cause. Xi can never be trusted

    • UN Out of USA, USA Out of UN

      Xi is out for what is best for China, period. Just like Trump is out for what is best for America. Trump knows this. He is simply publicizing China’s trickery for all the world to see. It gives him cover should things turn to war.

  • Mike Drop

    Trump needs to learn the lesson I did while in the Navy.

    All Asians are scheming, lying, unethical scumbags. They will smile to your face while they stick a knife in your back.

    Once you understand that you’ll do fine.

    • Dan Tandan

      same as muslims

  • Tyrone

    The US spends about $800,000 in foreign aid to China each year, maybe it’s time to put a stop to that.

    • UN Out of USA, USA Out of UN

      Tyrone, not sure we send ANY Foreign Aid to China but, that amount is a pittance. Please post a link showing it is correct.

      • Tyrone

        Former Senator Tom Coburn’s “Wastebook” which each year identified questionable line items from the federal budget, foreign aid to China was one of many examples of how taxpayer money is not necessarily spent wisely by the government.

  • 55retire

    They cheat on anything they think they can get away with and or they just don’t care. I had to move some of my manufacturing there because reps were taking our business away. Long story so will get to the B.S. One I had to have My own quality control here in states and do 100 percent inspection. All took some of the components totally apart to make sure correct materials were being used. Made to print. Also one time I had parts made there stocked them in states and shipped to customer quantity that’s needed. Never had problem getting parts here. Now customer moved there assembly to China in Wuxi outside Shanghai. So what ever parts we had in states left over we shipped to Wuxi. Our parts get held in customs and sits for months because they said there was lead in or solder. After sometime the Wuxi plant was able to get parts released when they showed parts were originally made in China. Lead no longer a problem.There was no lead. This happens all the time trying to get U.S. made parts in unless your like a large corp like Schneider. Friends of President Xi. Also they subsidize products that is the Government. They probably use the interest we pay them to subsidize products to keep there people working and taking our jobs. I’m a free market guy but we should never have played ball with the likes of them. Part of the global new normal economics movement Obama, My pope the leader of China Xi. Check out Obama economic guru Mohamed A El-Erian out of Newport Beach. He coined the phrase the new normal economy. You know people Obama’s EPA person said about us who are not on global warming band wagon quote these people are not normal. The communist movement to keep Christian way of life is well at work. Iv’e written a few time on the book of revelation but will not again its now spam but in my profile.Much more but people probably won’t read this much. Your obediant servant Michael.

  • All American

    That’s it! America must boycott all goods made in China!
    Communist’s never have been, never will be anything but untruthful oppressive disparaging cheats⬇️

    • Al Lejdly

      I saw all of this coming many years ago and it started with Japan, moved to Taiwan then China. I can’t believe that The Greatest Generation bought in to the Japanese lie.

      • All American

        Which generation is that? WWII era?

        • Al Lejdly

          Yuppers and our wonderful politicians approve Japanese imports in, I think, the mid 50’s. I never could understand how any American could buy something from a country that tortured and slaughtered our troops the way they did. I’m a boomer and I saw this when I was young and just scratched my head. ???

          • WSWSapphire

            I remember the big joke used to be the ‘Made in Japan’ sticker on the bottom of products, and sometimes Taiwan. In adult yrs., it was ‘Made in China’. (In fact, till just recently, I’d forgotten the labels used to be nearly all Japan. Organizing things lately, I found a loose Japan sticker & thought ‘Oh yeah, it used to be Japan’.) I got burned really bad on e-bay last yr. by a Chinese co., and also by e-bay, so it was bye to the bay.

          • Al Lejdly

            It’s kind of ironic how once Japan got a taste of good old capitalism they started demanding better pay, working conditions and living conditions. So investors saw cheap labor in Taiwan and moved there. Same thing happened there so then it moved to China. In the meantime we see what it did to the USA and it’s once dominant capitalism. I so hope Trump is successful at bringing most of our manufacturing back into the fold. This time though, keep a check on the unions or it will all disappear again.

  • landy fincannon

    Here’s the thing. The BANKSTERS need a madam to perpetuate endless funding of the Military Industrial Complex.

    Of course China, is going to aid their proxy.

  • Dell Wilber

    Big Red China can never be trusted…with anything…

  • iwontell

    Well I do wonder if China would be able to “fix” the opportunists” that are playing the oil game…..just like us and the drug trade in America……

  • Mitchell Jennings

    Ed Markey’s parents should have kept the placenta and thrown out the baby…

    • Hummer

      Surprised they didn’t after all they are Sanger democrats.

  • landy fincannon

    LOL. Who expected anything less?

    So, you think the Central Planners didn’t anticipate China to become a global threat when their poser meet at Yalta?

  • No Mas

    UN should threaten identical Sanctions on CHINA NEXT!!!!

    • iwontell

      Screw the UN………it has long been a money wasting “organization” that’s outlived it purpose…….with our money.

      • UEM

        Our money is it purpose. Like sucking up water is the purpose of a sponge.

      • UN Out of USA, USA Out of UN

        Spot on.

    • Mr. Krabs

      Threaten? That’s all the UN knows what to do is threaten… They need to take action!

  • nfcapitalist

    Only Americans who trust the Chinese are Democrats (communists)… but constitutional conservatives still need to and must deal with reality… our enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC!

    • “I’m a Rooster!”

      I believe Trump is our man for this endeavor. He’ll enlighten China shortly.

      • Mr. Krabs

        I’d start with selling Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles then see if they want to follow the talk about North Korea again.

        • UN Out of USA, USA Out of UN

          Sell them to Japan also. That will definitely shake up the Chinese.

  • Chkitout1

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Americans are fools to trust the Chinese.

    • billy roche

      Yes, and the friend of my enemy is my enemy.

    • landy fincannon

      FDR never met a communist he didn’t fall in love. Nixon had the same flaw.

    • “I’m a Rooster!”

      Our illustrious President is no fool. Time will tell.

    • Mr. Krabs

      There is no such thing as that… Stalin was proof during and after WW2

  • Jason Lamson

    Excellent tweet.