Airstrikes on Syria might also send message to North Korea

Trevor Jackson
April 12, 2017

President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have established the US-China Comprehensive Dialogue and agreed to expand areas of cooperation while managing differences based on mutual respect, the White House said today.

Trump's aides insisted he had made good on his pledge to raise concerns about China's trade practices and said there was some headway, with Xi agreeing to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting US exports and reducing China's trade surplus with the United States. But Trump's decision to launch the airstrikes changed that dynamic quite abruptly - and for Pyongyang, more than talk of sanctions or deeper isolation, the missiles may well have been the message.

On Monday, Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, stressed that South Korea should take the initiative in handling the North Korea issue.

Wang Dong, Associate Professor of International Studies at China's elite Peking University, said the move may have had the added bonus in Trump's eyes of sending North Korea a message over its nuclear programme, but that China was unlikely to be fazed.

The presidents didn't mention the Syria attack or North Korea during their public remarks Thursday and Friday, and even steered clear of issues like trade that were supposed to dominate the summit.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Wednesday that flew a short distance before spinning out of control and crashing into the sea, the latest of a number of missile tests defying United Nations sanctions.

Such closer cooperation could include tighter enforcement of worldwide trade sanctions - nearly all of North Korea's trade passes through China - along with a crackdown on the North's ability to use the global financial system and heavy punishments or exclusion from the financial world for those who deal with the North.

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The White House and Republican lawmakers dragging former President Obama's National Security Advisor into the conversation . This includes the role he played in the 2012 Central Intelligence Agency talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Trump pledged to curb the regime's nuclear ambitions alone, if China fails to step up pressure on its North Korean ally.

USA media, at least, was far more interested in the Syria story than the carefully-crafted summit; after brief comments to the press by Trump, reporters could be heard shouting out questions about the missile strikes before Xi was able to speak his piece.

"It has been a typical tactic of the send a strong political message by attacking other countries using advanced warplanes and cruise missiles", Xinhua wrote in reference to prior USA strikes in Libya and Sudan, the Times wrote.

United States president Donald Trump has said his meetings with China's president Xi Jinping went well but regarding progress on trade "only time will tell".

It cited the spirit of the bilateral alliance that dates back to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Blinken noted that North Korea seeks the US response to every single provocation and Washington should not play into the hands of the reclusive regime. After dinner, Mr. Xi left Mr. Trump's resort for his hotel nearby, and Mr. Trump walked into a secure room at the resort for a classified update on the effect of the Syria strikes from national security officials.

The possibility of US military action against North Korea in response to such tests gained traction following last week's strikes against Syria.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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