Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Tillerson to Face Chinese Ire Over Blame for North Korea Tensions

He said that the "policy of strategic patience has ended" and that the United States was considering military, diplomatic and economic measures aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday he is not ruling out military action against North Korea if a threat warrants it.

Previous U.S. administrations have held the threat of military action over North Korea in response to nuclear tests or missile launches but Tillerson's remarks go much further.

As North Korea's weapon program advances, Siegfried S. Hecker, emeritus director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told The New York Times that "Pyongyang will likely develop the capability to reach the continental United States with a nuclear tipped missile in a decade or so".

On Saturday Tillerson will head to China to press the North's key diplomatic protector and trade partner to back tougher sanctions - but Beijing has been infuriated by the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system to the South.

"The only thing is that we've never been here before", Hahm said.

Six North Korean defectors were arrested in China's Hebei Province last weekend and are at risk of being sent back to the repressive state.

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North Korea has a long-standing ambition to become a nuclear power and has conducted several atomic tests in defiance of the worldwide community and United Nations sanctions. "China has done little to help", Trump's tweet said. "It's not our objective to force them into some brash action", the secretary of state told IJR. Presumably the also continuing cyber-attacks against the North Korean nuclear program.

Tillerson replied that Trump places a "very high value on the communications that have already occurred" between Xi and Trump. The ties worsened even further after a phone call between Trump and the Taiwanese president in December, raising concerns that the new United States administration may not honor the one-China policy.

Tillerson said Wang agreed on the need for a "sense of urgency" on coming to a "course correction" with Pyongyang.

Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December 2016 by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

On a diplomatic tour of Asia, Tillerson was anything but diplomatic when he quite directly - and very accurately - stated that 20 years of diplomacy with North Korea has "failed".

The US has been trying to pile pressure on China to act against North Korea and China is livid with Washington's move to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles in South Korea to counter the missile threat from the North Korea.

Trump is expected to host Xi in Florida next month.

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