Chinese leader, US' Tillerson focus on developing ties

by Alfonso Matthews Marcha 20, 2017, 0:22

Such tools are easily rejiggered to function as missiles.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un has announced a "new birth" in his country's rocket programme after overseeing a test.

Rex Tillerson reassured President Xi over the weekend that both himself and President Trump are "expecting a new era for constructive development" in bilateral relations between the two powers.

North Koea's mid-range missiles aimed eastward have mostly fallen into the Sea of Japan, and one long-range missile aimed southward fell in the Pacific near the Philippines' Batanes island.

Outside observers say the nuclear-armed Pyongyang's space programme is a fig leaf for military use, as rocket engines are easily re-purposed for missiles.

Tillerson's China visit, it seems, is aimed at finding common grounds for bottleneck issues to prepare conducive atmosphere for Trump-Jinping summit, something that China also realises.

Cooperation is the "only correct" choice for both the countries, Xi said apparently referring to anti-China rhetoric by US President Donald Trump.

But expectations for the visit were relatively low.

Xi greeted the new secretary of state in an ornate room in the Great Hall of the People.

The issue is expected to figure prominently in Trump-Jinping talks.

Mr Trump has also repeatedly accused China of unfair trade practices.

A day before the arrival of Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil chief executive, the Saudi Arabian king and his thousand-person entourage signed $65 billion worth of economic and trade deals with China.

According to Global Times, the sister publication of People's Daily, Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, Tillerson's visit to China has 'served to reduce anxiety over US-China' ties. The North conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests last year.

China has been reluctant to lean on its smaller neighbor, and fears the United States is trying to increase its influence on the Korean peninsula. They have been playing the United States for years.

For the meantime, China has vented most of its fury on South Korea, where the U.S. has deployed anti-missile defenses known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD. And he's threatened to pull the U.S. out of the United Nations Human Rights Council unless it undergoes reform. The communique issued on Saturday was milder than the last one, from 2016.

Trump looks forward to "the opportunity of a visit in the future", he added, in an apparent reference to unconfirmed reports of plans for the two leaders to meet in Florida next month.

Concerns about North Korea and its increasingly threatening behavior dominated discussions during Tillerson's first trip to the region, which included stops in Japan, South Korea and China, the final stop.

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