The United States is pressuring China to go after companies dealing with North Korea, Beijing’s single biggest trading partner.
President Donald Trump had been relying on China to pressure North Korea into dialing back its aggressive nuclear and military programs in the midst of ongoing missile launches by the Hermit Kingdom. But the commander-in-chief of the world’s strongest Army seems to be losing his patience.
Trump took to Twitter Monday and posted “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!”
But the president’s next move could cause more tension between the planet’s largest economies. China remains North Korea’s most important trading partner accounting for 70% of Pyongyang’s total trade and supplying the nuclear-armed nation with essential goods such as food and energy, according to the Congressional Research Service.
An editorial that ran in the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times warned of “friction” between the U.S. and China if Washington imposes sanctions on the Communist nation’s companies.
The ongoing battle follows the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student who died recently after spending 18 months in a North Korean prison before coming back home in a comma after action by president Trump to have him released.
The student had been handed a sentence of 15 years of hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster.
North Korean authorities said he fell into a coma after suffering from botulism following ingestion of a sleeping pill. However, doctors who examined him the in the U.S. found evidence of severe tissue loss from his brain.
His death pushed several lawmakers to call for strict backlash against North Korea and to hold the rogue state accountable for the death of the young man.
Sen. John McCain in a statement Monday said “Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime. In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture and murder.”
He also accused North Korea of “destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region, and rapidly developing the technology to strike the American homeland with nuclear weapons. Now it has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea. The United States of America cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”
Young Pioneer Tours, the China-based group that organized Warmbier’s trip, announced it would no longer take Americans to the country.