With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.
The leaders pledged in talks on Sunday to work to strengthen a relationship strained by disputes over North Korea and trade Tillerson told Xi Jinping that President Donald Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.
Xi met Tillerson in Beijing just hours after nuclear-armed North Korea tested the US-China relationship anew by announcing a provocative rocket engine trial, and with delicate negotiations under way for a Xi summit with President Donald Trump.
Xi told Tillerson that he and Trump had resolved in a phone call last month “to make joint efforts to advance China-US cooperation, and we believe that we can make sure the relationship will move ahead in a constructive fashion in the new era.”
“I’m confident that as long as we can do this the relationship can surely move in the right direction,” Xi said.
En route to Beijing, Tillerson visited US allies Japan and South Korea where he declared Washington would drop the “failed” approach of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang — adding that US military action against the North was possible. That marked a sharp break with China, which favours careful diplomacy over heated rhetoric.
Relations have also been strained by China’s fierce opposition to a US missile defence system being rolled out in South Korea and Trump’s Twitter accusation on Friday that China was not doing enough to control Pyongyang.
Earlier on Sunday North Korean state media said the isolated regime had tested a powerful engine hailed by leader Kim Jong-Un as a “new birth” for its rocket industry.