China says preparatory work for Xi Jinping-Donald Trump meeting has begun

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson met today (March 19) with China's president Xi Jinping, which is the highest-level meeting between the Trump administration and Beijing to date.

But he admitted that 20 years of diplomacy and sanctions have failed to rein in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and said "a new approach" is needed.

The president said he has maintained sound communications with Trump, and they have agreed that the two countries could be good cooperative partners.

President Xi, thank you so much for that very warm welcome, and for receiving me in Beijing on this, my first visit to China as Secretary of State.

Tillerson took a softer line after the meeting with Wang.

The comments come just a day after Trump wrote on his Twitter account that North Korea was "behaving very badly".

Tillerson said: "We share a common view and a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now, and things have reached a rather unsafe level".

North Korea has accelerated its weapons development in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and despite tough sanctions levied against it.

For two hours, Tillerson met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, who said the U.S. should "come back to the right track of a negotiated settlement".

By putting the military option on the table, the Trump administration could be trying to push China into further action on North Korea by its own impetus.

"Neither of us are ready to give up the hope for peace", he said.

South Korea is awaiting a presidential election in May, and an opposition victory could shift North Korea policy in the direction of inter-Korean dialogue.

On Friday Trump accused China of not doing enough to control Pyongyang, its neighbour and historic ally.

These hard-won achievements should be appreciated and valued, especially at a time when the Asia-Pacific and the wider world are facing a thicket of thorny issues that require close coordination between the two countries, such as the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula. It warns that the only way to make North Korea disarm is through dialogue... which is something the USA secretary of state has already ruled out.

"Once there is chaos in North Korea, it would first bring disaster to China".

Rex Tillerson's China visit ended warmly despite its strained relations with the US.

Tillerson's remarks to Xi, however, made no mention of these issues. The trip follows a string of North Korea missile launches and comes amid fears it's preparing for another nuclear test. Its regime, under the 33-year-old Kim Jong-Un, has conducted a total of five nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009, 2013 and twice in 2016 alongside an ever-increasing number of short and intermediate range ballistic missile tests since the mid-1990s.

China has proposed double suspension formula under which US and South Korea should stop aggressive military exercises and North Korea should stop nuclear weapons programme, which drew lukewarm response from Washington. This is clearly different from Tillerson's remarks during his joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on March 17 in which he urged China to put more sanctions and pressure on North Korea.

China has stridently opposed the deployment of a USA missile defense system to South Korea, saying its X-band radar can peer deep into China to monitor flights and rocket launches.

Related News: