President Donald Trump's latest public criticism of China suggests he could consider more economic actions to put pressure on Beijing to limit North Korean aggression.
In a pair of Wednesday morning tweets after Pyongyang's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump questioned why the United States should "continue" trade deals with "countries that do not help us." He then said that China — North Korea's only major ally with economic leverage over the isolated nation — saw its trade with North Korea grow "almost 40% in the first quarter."
"So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try!" Trump tweeted, just before he left for a foreign trip during which he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting in Germany.
Trump: 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!
It is unclear from where Trump got the figure of 40 percent growth in China's trade with North Korea.
Lacking many other options to push North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, the U.S. has looked to China to pull economic and diplomatic levers. Trump has expressed frustration with Beijing's efforts and recently took actions aimed at putting pressure on China: sanctions against Chinese entities with ties to North Korea, a planned $1.42 billion arms sale to Taiwan and U.S. military movement through contested waters in the South China Sea.
Trump's latest tweets imply those moves "are just the beginning," Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, told CNBC on Wednesday. "And that we are gearing up for some tariffs against China, with the possibility of a trade war. No question, that's the big risk here. North Korea's antics make it worse."