Experts fault US' DPRK-trade link

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-08-11 12:22

US President Donald Trump on Thursday again linked China's help in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula with China trade, a move that many experts disapprove of.

Speaking at his golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, Trump said he had great respect for China and Russia for voting for the latest UN Security Council sanctions on DPRK.

"I think China can do a lot more... And I think China will do a lot more," he told a reporter.

"Look, we have trade with China. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It's not going to continue like that. But if China helps us, I'll feel a lot differently for trade," he said.

China has stated that the US should refrain from discussing the settlement of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula within the context of Chinese-US trade.

"We believe that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and China-US trade relations are issues that are in two completely different domains. It is inappropriate to discuss them together,"China's Vice-Minister of Commerce Qian Keming said last week.

Trump's words came at a sensitive time. News reports suggest that the US Trade Representative might initiate a Section 301 investigation into China on intellectual property rights issues by using a 1974 trade law that some US experts have described as "outdated".

Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said he is perplexed as to why Trump continues to link the issues of trade and the DPRK.

"North Korea is a diplomatic and security problem for both the United States and China, and they should work together where they have common interests in defusing tensions in the region," he told China Daily on Thursday.

Alden said that there are serious trade issues between the two countries that can and should be resolved through negotiations. "The problems will not go away because the two countries are cooperating on the DPRK," Alden said.

Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies and director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that under the Trump administration, China's help on the DPRK issue could help defuse the trade tensions, at least temporarily.

"President Trump has suggested this so often that he may well hold back on 301 or other measures in exchange," Paal said.

But Paal expressed his doubts about how long such an approach could last.

"As someone long involved in these sorts of affairs, I believe unrelated tight linkage plays to no one's advantage. But Mr. Trump evidently thinks our trade deficit with China is so important to Beijing that it gives the US exceptional leverage to accommodate unrelated American demands," said Paal, a noted expert on China who had previously served in the US government.

"We'll see which is right," he added.

The two countries concluded a 100-Day Action Plan for economic cooperation applauded by both sides. They have agreed to work on a One-Year Action Plan.

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