Beijing — China hit back on Monday after US President Donald Trump tweeted he was "very disappointed" in China after North Korea’s latest missile test, saying the problem did not arise in China and all sides needed to work for a solution.
China has become increasingly frustrated with US and Japanese criticism that it should do more to rein in Pyongyang.
China is North Korea’s closest ally, but Beijing is angry with its nuclear and missile tests.
North Korea said on Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which proved its ability to strike the US mainland, drawing a sharp warning from Trump and a rebuke from China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with Trump on Monday and agreed on the need for more action on North Korea just hours after the US ambassador to the UN said Washington was "done talking about North Korea".
A White House statement said the two leaders "agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea and other countries near and far".
It said Trump "reaffirmed our ironclad commitment" to defend Japan and South Korea from any attack, "using the full range of US capabilities".
Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday after the missile test that he was "very disappointed" in China and that Beijing profited from US trade but had done "nothing" for the US with regard to North Korea, which was something he would not allow to continue.
China’s foreign ministry, in a statement responding to Trump’s tweets, said the nuclear issue did not arise because of China and everyone needed to work together for a resolution.
"All parties should have a correct understanding of this," it said, adding that the global community recognised China’s efforts to seek a resolution.
The essence of Sino-US trade was mutual benefit and win-win, with a vast number of facts proving that the healthy development of business and trade ties was good for both countries, the ministry added.
I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
Chinese Commerce Vice-Minister Qian Keming weighed in, telling a news conference there was no link between the North Korean issue and China-US trade. "We think the North Korea nuclear issue and China-US trade are issues that are in two completely different domains. They aren’t related.
"They should not be discussed together," Qian said.
China, with which North Korea does the large majority of its trade, has repeatedly said it strictly followed UN resolutions on North Korea. It has denounced unilateral US sanctions as unhelpful.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, said China had to decide if it is willing to back imposing stronger UN sanctions on North Korea over Friday night’s long-range missile test, the North’s second in July.
Any new UN Security Council resolution "that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value", Haley said, adding that Japan and South Korea also needed to do more.
Abe told reporters that repeated efforts by the global community to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean issue had yet to bear fruit in the face of Pyongyang’s unilateral "escalation". Abe said: "International society, including Russia and China, need to take this seriously and increase pressure." Japan and the US would take steps towards concrete action, he said, but did not give details.
Abe and Trump did not discuss military action against North Korea, deputy chief cabinet spokesman Koichi Hagiuda told reporters.
"Pyongyang is determined to develop its nuclear and missile programme and does not care about military threats from the US and South Korea," state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said on Monday.
"How could Chinese sanctions change the situation?" asked the paper, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
China wants both balanced trade with the US and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, its official Xinhua news agency said. "However, Beijing needs a more co-operative partner in the White House, not one who piles blame on China for the US’s failures."