Beijing was Tillerson’s final stop on his first official trip to Asia, which also included visits to Japan and South Korea.
A similar proposal by Foreign Minister Wang Yi was rejected by the US State Department last week.
North Korea is attempting to show it was making progress in developing a long-range inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, said Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
Sure, his warnings about the possibility of eventual military action over North Korea have raised hackles here, but Tillerson received a warm welcome from China’s president on Sunday.
That kind of rhetoric is at odds with Beijing’s preference for diplomatic talks.
Despite assurances that this is a defensive system, focused on North Korea, China says the accompanying radar would be able to penetrate deep into Chinese territory, compromising its own defences.
He added: “T$3 hen at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was exhausted”.
While urging China to play a bigger role in persuading North Korea to change course, Tillerson has concluded that US policy toward the reclusive country over the past two decades was a failure, highlighting the urgent need of taking a “different approach”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday oversaw a test of a new type of high-thrust engine, state-run KCNA reported. China firmly opposes any such unilateral US sanctions.
“Washington and Seoul are trying to shift all the burden of solving the North Korean nuclear issue onto China and include China into their strategy toward Pyongyang”, it said. Various rounds of such talks in years past failed to deter Pyongyang. “We are both expecting a new era for constructive development”.
China has criticised the U.S. get-tough approach, saying diplomacy was the “only feasible option” and challenging the Trump administration to propose a clear alternative.
Negotiations are under way for a potential first summit meeting between Mr Xi and Mr Trump next month in the US.
Trump has been a frequent China critic, and the summit could be crucial in setting a lasting tone in the big-power relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping today vowed to work with the U.S. for healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, calling cooperation the “correct” choice for both the countries.
Tillerson’s comments were unusual, however, as he appeared to be implying, in public, that the US would consider military force as a way of preventing an attack by Pyongyang, and not just as a means of retaliation. China recently announced it was suspending coal imports that are an important source of revenue for North Korea for the rest of the year in adherence with United Nations sanctions. Bringing North Korea “to a different place” is a matter to be approached with “a sense of urgency”, he said. “This is an extremely complex and sensitive issue”. Do these remarks mark a break from the Obama administration’s policy toward Pyongyang, or do they mark a return to a familiar phrase in diplomacy?
“There’s no equivalence between North Korea’s illegal missile and nuclear activities and what is our lawful, longstanding joint security exercises with our allies in the region”, said Mark Toner, the acting State Department spokesman, in response to Wang’s initial pitch. It conducted its first underground atomic test in 2006, triggering global condemnation.