“I am very disappointed in China,” Mr. Trump declared on Twitter on Sunday, after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of United Nations sanctions.
Despite China’s big trade surplus with the United States, he continued in a second tweet, saying, ‘they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”
China’s rebuke to Mr. Trump didn’t use exclamation marks. But the Xinhua editorial broke with Beijing’s usual public reticence when Mr. Trump has taken China to task over trade imbalances, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Taiwan and other sources of tension.
“Taking out this outrage on China is clearly finding the wrong target,” it said, warning such broadsides could be dangerous.
“What the peninsula needs is immediately stamping out the fire, not adding kindling or, even worse, pouring oil on the flames,” Xinhua said. The tensions could, it added, “evolve into a localized conflict, or even the outbreak of war, with unthinkable repercussions.”
Chinese diplomats and the state news media have consistently argued that Washington and its allies should not rely so much on China to defuse tensions created by North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. On Friday, North Korea tested a ballistic missile that experts have said could have the range to hit California.
The United States secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, has turned up pressure on China to help isolate and cajole North Korea. “China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability,” he said in a statement after the launch.
But the Chinese government argues that North Korea won’t back down and return to negotiations over its weapons programs unless the United States and its northeast Asian allies, South Korea and Japan, take conciliatory steps. In particular, China has proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a halt to…