On his way to Europe to attend meetings with G20 world leaders this week, President Donald Trump lashed out at China Wednesday morning for its trade relationship with North Korea.
“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump wrote on Twitter, the second in a two-post flurry.
“The United States made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history. Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?” Trump wrote minutes earlier, an apparent reference to China’s inability or unwillingness to cooperate with the U.S. on corralling North Korea.
Presented in his administration’s opening weeks with a fresh wave of bellicose rhetoric from the repressive regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump announced that he would seek China’s help in tightening the screws on Pyongyang in order to curb its nuclear ambitions. China, responsible for almost all of North Korea’s foreign trade and its chief international patron, is uniquely positioned to exert influence on the Kim regime.
Trump, who campaigned on a get-tough-with-China economic message, had suggested publicly that he might offer better terms to Beijing in his promised renegotiation of U.S.-China trade policy if it could successfully tamp down North Korea’s nuclear program. After months of promising to immediately label China a currency manipulator upon taking office, Trump opted against doing so, instead taking a wait-and-see approach to seek the Chinese government’s cooperation.
But North Korea’s behavior, which included the nation’s first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, has not shifted dramatically since Trump’s inauguration. And while Trump administration officials have suggested that Trump has not given up on working with China, the president himself has seemed to say as much in posts to his Twitter account.
“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump wrote online last month.