US President Donald Trump has offered a “good trade” deal to China in exchange for Beijing’s help in dealing with the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Trump said he was confident that Chinese President Xi Jinping would support America to confront North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but cautioned that he was prepared to tackle the crisis alone if needed.
“President Xi wants to do the right thing. We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together. I think he wants to help us with North Korea. We talked trade. We talked a lot of things,” Trump told reporters at a joint news conference yesterday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.
Trump had spent two days with Xi at his Mar a-Lago resort in Florida last week. He also spoke to him over phone yesterday.
Tensions are escalating sharply over fears that North Korea may carry out another nuclear test on Saturday.
“I said, the way you’re going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea. Otherwise, we’re just going to go it alone,” Trump said referring to the latest telephonic conversation with the Chinese President.
“That’d be all right, too. But going it alone means going it with lots of other nations,” he cautioned China.
Trump said he was “very impressed” with Xi.
“I think he means well, and I think he wants to help. We’ll see whether or not he does,” Trump said.
In an interview with ‘The Wall Street Journal’, Trump said the US has “tremendous trade deficits” with everybody, but the big one is with China.
“It’s hundreds of billions of dollars of year for many many years. And I told them. I said you know, we’re not going to let that go ahead. Now, I did say but you want to make a great deal? Solve the problem in North Korea. That’s worth having deficits. And that’s worth having not as good a trade deal as I would normally be able to make. Ok, I’ll make great deals,” he said.
Trump also said he would not label China a currency manipulator.
It’s a shift of opinion after Trump accused China during last year’s election campaign of manipulating its currency to gain the upper hand in trade and vowed to label the country a manipulator.
“They’re not currency manipulators,” the US President said.
“Mr Trump said the reason he has changed his mind on one of his signature campaign promises is that China hasn’t been manipulating its currency for months and because taking the step now could jeopardise his talks with Beijing on confronting the threat of North Korea,” The Wall Street Journal said.
In the interview, Trump insisted that the US will not allow North Korea to go nuclear.
“You cannot allow a country like that (North Korea) to have nuclear power, nuclear weapons. That’s mass destruction. And he doesn’t have the delivery systems yet, but he you know he will,” he said.
“So, you know we (Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping) have a very open dialogue on North Korea. We have a very good relationship, we have great chemistry together. We like each other, I like him a lot. I think his wife is terrific. And you know, it’s very rare that he comes and stays with somebody and spends that much time,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, China last night abstained rather than joining Russia in vetoing a UN security council resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Idlib province.
Trump said it was “wonderful” that China, who traditionally supports the Russian position on Syria, had abstained and that the US was “honoured by that vote”.
(With inputs from agencies)