Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Trump looks forward to visiting China: US state secretary

Trump looks forward to visiting China: US state secretary

Despite Mr Trump's tweet, Mr Tillerson's visit to China - the last leg of the Asian trip that also included Japan - ended on friendly terms, with Chinese President Xi Jinping praising the Secretary of State's efforts.

He also said a "new approach" is necessary for the North, while emphasizing that conditions for talks with Pyongyang are "not ripe".

Tillerson broke with decades of tradition by allowing only one reporter from a conservative outlet to accompany him on his trip, a move that triggered concerns about the message it sends to China about press freedoms.

Bonnie Glaser, of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said on Twitter that it was a mistake for the Trump administration to endorse Beijing's concept of the so-called new concept of great power relations.

There was no mention of contentious issues like North Korea's missile and nuclear programs or self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

In South Korea, where Tillerson visited the DMZ, he said the US would not enter into any negotiations with North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs - a position similar to one taken by the Obama Administration that reflects Pyongyang's history of reneging on promises to back off.

China says it is committed to enforcing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.

Experts said the comments indicate the test was likely a new type of engine for long-range missiles. The ruling communist party will hold its 19th national congress, which is expected to give Xi Jinping a second five-year term as head of the party, state and military.

Tillerson's public statements and those of officials he met including Xi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were dominated by the issue of North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons program.

A day earlier, Tillerson had said military action is "an option on the table" if the threat posed by Pyongyang increases.

Tillerson said in talks with Xi in Beijing that Trump places a "very high value" on communications with the Chinese president. "I express my appreciation for this", Xi said, according to Reuters. But China has not changed its bottom line of avoiding actions that would destabilize Kim Jong-un's regime.

North Korea on Sunday accused the United States of maintaining a policy of aggression against it, a local media report said.

For the meantime, China has vented most of its fury on South Korea, where the US has deployed anti-missile defenses known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

In order to healthily and steadily boost China-US ties, both sides could enhance the high-level and multi-level exchanges, expand the cooperation at the bilateral, regional and global levels, and properly handle the most sensitive issues, he added.

Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said Tillerson played safe to pave the way for a Trump-Xi summit.

Neither Tillerson nor Wang elaborated what steps are under consideration and it's still unclear whether Washington and Beijing see eye to eye on the issue.

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