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American and Chinese officials attend the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington on June 21.   © Reuters
Politics

US, China agree to restrain business with North Korea

Chinese diplomats leave without talking to reporters, issuing statement

TSUYOSHI NAGASAWA and OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writers | China

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. on Wednesday said that it and China has agreed to restrain companies from their two nations from doing businesses with North Korean entities now under United Nations sanction.

The announcement came after the first meeting under what is being called the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue.

Before the talks, each side had been ratcheting up the rhetoric, reflecting the tightening of tensions in the wake of the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who had been detained and tortured in Pyongyang.

Washington has been demanding Beijing play a bigger role in pressuring North Korea regarding its missile and nuclear development programs. China's priority has been to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

Afterward, the Chinese representatives quickly left the venue. Their hasty departure also scuttled any joint press conference -- the usual practice after annual U.S.-China meetings held under the Strategic and Economic Dialogue framework. Nor was any joint statement issued, although the U.S. was willing to do so.

That left U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to answer reporters' questions. North Korea, he reiterated, poses "the most acute threat in the region today." He added that the U.S. and China "call for complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Tillerson said Pyongyang has engaged in a number of "criminal enterprises" to earn hard currency for its nuclear and missile development programs. Regarding the many Chinese companies that do business with North Korean entities, Tillerson called for stronger efforts to curtail these activities, which could generate revenue for the North.

The U.S. was represented by Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. China sent its top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the Chinese military's Joint Staff Department. 

U.S. President Donald Trump is growing frustrated not only with Pyongyang but with Beijing. "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi [Jinping] & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out," he tweeted on Tuesday.

During the news conference, Mattis said the American people are growing more and more frustrated with North Korea's repeated missile launches. Regarding Trump's tweet, he explained that it was made in response to Warmbier's death.

North Korea has not tested a missile since June 8.

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