China’s cooperation in pressuring its close ally North Korea over its nuclear and missile programme is “notable but uneven”, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told lawmakers. “The approach we are taking with North Korea, as you’re aware, is one of eliciting countries all over the world to support us in putting pressure on the regime in Pyongyang, to change and alter their position and their view before we are willing to sit down and conduct discussions with them,” Tillerson told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a Congressional hearing. Clearly, China is the capstone to achieving this kind of pressure, he said, adding that this was a topic of significant discussion in President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump’s summit in Mar-a-Lago earlier this year.
“The communications have been very clear. Our expectations have been very clear with the Chinese. Their cooperation, I would say, has been notable, but it has been uneven,” he said. “And we continue that dialogue with the Chinese, specifically around their actions that support revenue streams to North Korea, but also taking action against entities inside of China that may be supporting revenue streams as well,” Tillerson said. The Secretary of State said he along with Defense Secretary James Mattis will be having another high-level dialogue next week when they meet their Chinese counterparts here in Washington.
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“That will be one of the first topics on the agenda. We have made it clear to them, and we have provided them a list of entities that we believe they need to take action against. We have asked that they take the action, but President Trump has also been very clear with President Xi that if they either don’t want to take the action or they do not take the action, we will act on our own,” Tillerson said in response to a question. Responding to a series of questions on Taiwan, Tillerson said that there is no change in US’ One-China policy. “The China-US relationship has been defined for the past 50 years by our One-China policy and our agreement around One-China policy. They have their interpretation of what that means, and we have ours, and we’ve agreed that we will accommodate each other’s interpretation,” he said.
“But it has led to 50 years of stability in the region. It has prevented conflict. It has allowed for this enormous economic growth that has gone on, much of which we have benefited from,” Tillerson said. “As we began our dialogue with Chinese leadership, with this new administration, as you know, there was some questioning of our commitment to (the) One China early on. The president has reaffirmed that we are committed to the One- China policy,” he said. Tillerson asserted that the US is also completely committed to the Taiwan Relations Act, and fulfilling all of its commitments under it.
“But we are also in a discussion with China, now, about what is our relationship going to be for the next 50 years. How do we enter another era of stability and absence of conflict? And Taiwan, clearly, to the Chinese, is a part of that discussion,” he said. “So it is important, as we engage with them, that we are able to fulfill our commitments to Taiwan, which we have every intention of doing, and the question is, is the One China Policy sustainable for the next 50 years? And those are the kinds of discussions we’re having,” Tillerson said.
The discussions are extremely complex in many regards, he said. “But this is what we seek is another 50 years of stability and no conflict with China in the Pacific region. Taiwan is a big element of that. North Korea is a big element of that. Their island building and militarisation of islands is a significant element of that,” Tillerson said. “All of these are in our discussion with them about how do we define this relationship for the next half century, to ensure we have a continued era of no conflict and stability,” said the Secretary of State.