Chinese denials of "responsibility" to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons program met with a curt dismissal from the State Department.
"Hm, okay," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert replied when informed that a Chinese government spokesman had pushed back against U.S. pressure. "We continue to have conversations with Chinese government officials at all levels, at the highest levels, and we continue to say, ‘Thanks for what you've done, but we expect and we want you to do a whole lot more.'"
President Trump's team regards North Korea's nuclear weapons program as one of the most pressing national security issues. The regime tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile last week, a first-of-its-kind display that suggests North Korea has acquired the ability to hit the United States with a missile strike. China has resisted pressure from Trump to help deprive the pariah state of revenue by propping up some North Korean industries even as they implement international sanctions on others.
"Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called 'China responsibility theory,'" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday. "I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility."
Trump's team declared the latest missile test a "sharp military escalation" that warranted new sanctions, including more aggressive targeting of "third-party entities" that work with North Korea. Russia and China, however, maintain instead that the United States should agree to halt military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a moratorium on additional launches.
"Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves, is not okay," Geng said. "Being stabbed in the back is really not okay."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley maintained that the renewed sanctions package is a litmus test for the Security Council. "To sit there and oppose sanctions or to sit there and go in defiance of a resolution means that you're holding the hands of [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong-un," Haley said last week.