The Chinese government is now joining the long list of people who wish President Donald Trump would stop tweeting.
On Monday, Xinhua, Beijing’s official news agency, published a 1,000-Chinese character editorial deriding Trump’s incessant Twitter habit as “emotional venting.” The editorial was shared widely on other Chinese news websites.
“Trump is quite a personality, and he likes to tweet,” said the Xinhua editorial, translated by the New York Times. “But emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula,” referring to the Korean Peninsula.
Xinhua’s editorial is a direct response to Trump’s tweets targeting China over the weekend. After North Korea tested a missile on Friday that could theoretically hit New York and Washington, DC, Trump took to Twitter to bash China for not doing more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.
“I am very disappointed in China,” Trump tweeted. “They do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue.”
I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
...they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
There is a certain logic to Trump’s argument, as Vox’s Zack Beauchamp explains: China is North Korea’s largest trading partner. Beijing does have leverage over Pyongyang and could help get North Korea to the negotiating table.
But China can’t solve the nuclear crisis on its own. Xinhua’s editorial pointed that out, saying taming North Korea is not China’s responsibility and the United States should not “stab China in the back.”
“Taking out this outrage on China is clearly finding the wrong target,” said Xinhua.
Trump doesn’t have a good approach to North Korea
The Trump administration was hopeful that it could persuade China to influence North Korea and change the country’s nuclear course. Just one month ago, Trump essentially thanked China for its efforts, tweeting, “At least I know China tried!”
While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017
Since then, it’s become clearer that China will not take a harder line on Pyongyang. Chinese trade with North Korea actually increased 37.4 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2016.
The White House retaliated by slapping sanctions on a Chinese bank, a Chinese company, and two Chinese individuals for their ties to North Korea, reported Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem in June.
“While we will continue to seek international cooperation on North Korea, the United States is sending an emphatic message across the globe that we will not hesitate to take action against persons, companies, and financial institutions who enable this regime,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a June 29 statement on the earlier round of sanctions, clearly alluding to China.
But it’s not just China that’s ruining Trump’s plans for North Korea. As Vox’s Alex Ward reports, the president really doesn’t have any good options.
Trump has three bad options. He could try to take out North Korea’s nuclear facilities with a “surgical strike,” but that risks North Korea retaliating by attacking South Korea and Japan. He could try diplomacy, but that has not historically worked....
And then there are the sanctions — which Trump is trying. But many items the country wants and needs, like weapons and fuel, are already highly sanctioned by the US. North Korea hasn’t yet changed its course.
As North Korea’s nuclear program continues to develop by the day, all eyes are on the US’s and China’s response — and Trump’s tweets certainly aren’t helping the crisis.
“What the peninsula needs is immediately stamping out the fire, not adding kindling or, even worse, pouring oil on the flames,” Xinhua said.