Trump to press China on North Korea, trade on Beijing visit

By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to reporters as he welcomes United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (not pictured) for a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions against North Korea and take other steps to pressure Pyongyang when he travels to China next month, a senior White House official said on Monday.

Isolating North Korea further is a key goal for Trump on what will be his longest foreign trip to date. His Nov. 3-14 trip will include visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

China, Pyongyang’s sole major ally, has said it will strictly enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North. China accounts for more than 90 percent of trade with the isolated country.

But a senior White House official who briefed reporters ahead of the trip said China needs to do more to comply with two U.N. Security Council resolutions that were approved unanimously, including with China's support.

"We would like to see China follow through on those commitments. We would like to see China do things bilaterally as well that might even go beyond things that are mandated by those U.N. Security Council resolutions," the official said.

Though China has been angered by North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and demanded they stop, Beijing also sees the United States and South Korea sharing responsibility for rising tensions because of military drills they carry out in the region.

Trump is in a standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons ambitions and has threatened to "totally destroy" the country.

Trump has frequently asked China to help rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but this strategy has so far failed to stop Pyongyang conducting nuclear bomb tests at an underground facility and firing ballistic missile tests into the Pacific Ocean over Japan.

The failure to confront and reverse the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea will lead to a "much darker era," the White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But the official also said Trump is looking for a peaceful resolution of the North Korea standoff.

With Xi consolidating power in the wake of a Communist Party congress in Beijing, Trump believes the Chinese president will have a greater authority to take steps against North Korea, senior administration officials said last week.

Trump will also be tough on trade during talks with Xi as he seeks to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, the senior White House official said.

"We have huge barriers that Americans companies have to surmount to gain access to the Chinese market. The president is intent on rectifying that situation," the official said.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)