Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump about the tense situation in the Korean peninsula.
The recent war of words between the U.S. and North Korea has heightened the tensions between the two countries, with both sides not excluding the possibility of a military solution.
China has urged restraint, and called for both sides to tone down rhetoric.
“The relevant side must at present exercise restraint, and avoid words and actions that exacerbate tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Chinese state media said. According to media reports, President Xi told Trump that “all relevant parties” should stop “words and deeds” that could potentially destabilize the situation.
Following the phone conversation between Xi and Trump, the White House released a statement:
“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior.”
In the meantime, North Korea stepped up its rhetoric, and warned Trump administration to ‘talk and act properly,” if it did not want “the American empire to meet its tragic doom”.
However, Trump previously criticized China for not reining in North Korea, but Beijing backed the latest UNSC sanctions against Pyongyang, and also imposed a ban on coal imports from North Korea, in order to put further pressure on the regime.
In China, the state-run paper Global Times said China would stay neutral in case North Korea launches an attack on U.S. or its allies.
“If North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times wrote.
Still, should U.S. and its allies strike first to: “overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula,” Beijing would “prevent them from doing so,” it said.
As the tensions in the region are continuing to grow, China is amassing troops on its border with North Korea. Chine officials criticized the U.S. for the deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea, which Beijing sees as a potential threat to its national security.