China and the U.S. have pledged to set aside their differences and work on diplomatic solutions to mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula. China’s Foreign Minister hosted his U.S. counterpart to discuss a crisis that both sides are trying to manage.
The first face-to-face meeting between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson was decidedly warmer than the comments Tillerson made before landing in Beijing.
Tillerson criticized China following a wave Chinese consumer boycotts against Republic of Korea businesses in protest over the ROK’s deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.
“While we acknowledge China’s opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such action,” Tillerson told a news conference in Seoul.
The missile shield has raised tempers that were already running high following the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest missile tests, which is part of its nuclear weapons development.
But Tillerson appeared to have heeded his host’s call for cool heads to prevail.
Standing next to the U.S. Secretary of State, Yi told a joint news conference in Beijing:
“It is normal for the two sides to have a divergence of views. The two sides should handle and control sensitive issues in a constructive way.
Tillerson echoed that sentiment, telling reporters:
“The U.S.-China relationship has been guided by an understanding of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.”
China may have a close relationship with the DPRK, but that hasn’t prevented it calling on its neighbor stop the disputed missile tests.
But Tillerson’s warning Friday that a military response is on the table goes much further and echoes the tough language used by his boss, U.S. President Donald Trump.
Tillerson also met State Councillor Yang Jiechi. Yang is Beijing’s top diplomat and the first senior Chinese official to visit Trump at the White House.
Perhaps the real test of just how much common ground these men have made on this sensitive issue will take place when President Xi Jiinping visits President Trump in the U.S., a summit expected as soon as next month.