In a diplomatic gamble, President Donald Trump
is seeking to enlist China
as a peacemaker in the bristling nuclear-edged dispute with North Korea
at the very moment he plans to ratchet up conflict with Beijing over trade issues that have animated his political rise.
spoke late Friday with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping
of China, to press the Chinese to do more to rein in North Korea
as it races toward development of long-range nuclear weapons
that could reach the United States. Xi sought to lower the temperature after Trump’s vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, urging restraint and a political solution. But the conversation came as Trump’s administration was preparing new trade action against China
that could inflame the relationship. Trump
plans to return to Washington on Monday to sign a memo determining whether China
should be investigated for intellectual property violations, accusing Beijing of failing to curb the theft of trade secrets and rampant online and physical piracy and counterfeiting. An investigation would be intended to lead to retaliatory measures.
The White House
had planned to take action on intellectual property earlier but held off as it successfully lobbied China
to vote at the United Nations Security Council
for additional sanctions on North Korea
a week ago. Even now, the extra step of determining whether to start the investigation is less than trade hawks might have wanted, but softens the blow to China
and gives Trump
a cudgel to hold over it if he does not get the cooperation he wants.
While past presidents have tried at least ostensibly to keep security and economic issues on separate tracks in their dealings with China, Trump
has explicitly linked the two, suggesting he would back off from a trade war against Beijing if it does more to pressure North Korea.
helps us, I feel a lot differently towards trade,” he told reporters on Thursday.
© 2017 The New York Times News Service