U.S. President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that "North Korea is looking for trouble" with its nuclear weapons development program and implored China to help rein in Pyongyang.
Trump, in a pair of comments on his Twitter account, said, "If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!" He did not elaborate on what actions the U.S. might take.
Trump said that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping at last week's summit between the two leaders that a Beijing trade deal with Washington "will be far better" for China "if they solve the North Korean problem!"
China is North Korea's main benefactor, with the Council on Foreign Relations describing Beijing as North Korea’s "most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and energy."
But China has also grown weary of North Korea's repeated missile tests in violation of United Nations sanctions and five nuclear tests. Some analysts believe North Korea is preparing a sixth nuclear test.
Trump last weekend dispatched a U.S. Navy strike group to the northern Pacific waters near North Korea to send a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea said that the U.S. missile attack last week on Syria for its use of chemical weapons justifies its nuclear development program for fear of a U.S. attack.
Trump also urged Xi to help close the yawning U.S. trade gap with China, with Chinese interests last year exporting $347 billion more in products to the U.S. than American businesses sent to China. The U.S. imports consumer electronics, clothing and machinery from China, while U.S. manufacturers send raw materials to China for low-cost assembly of some consumer products.
Trump has suggested he will try to impose tariffs on goods made overseas by U.S. companies who then bring the products back to the U.S. for sale to American consumers. But he has not made any tariff proposal to Congress, which would have to approve a new levy, which in turn could initiate a trade war with foreign governments and also boost the price of consumer goods in the United States.