(CN) – A senior Chinese trade official said Monday the President Donald Trump is wrong to pull the issue of China-U.S. trade into the debate over what to do over growing North Korea security threats.
The remarks by Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming came during a news conference to announce the latest trade numbers in China.
He was pushing back at statements Trump made via Twitter over the weekend in which the president complained that China benefits greatly from trade with the U.S. but is proving no help to resolve the growing crisis in North Korea.
“North Korea’s nuclear issue and the issue of trade between China and the United States are two different issues. They are not related. You cannot speak about them together,” Qian told reporters.
Trump sent a pair of tweets on Sunday, saying: “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 … they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley later offered her own criticism, saying China “must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step” of getting tough on the North.
The back and forth came after Pyongyang conducted its latest test of an ICBM it says it capable of striking the mainland United States.
Aside from tweeting, Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday about the crisis with both North Korea “poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far,” according to a readout from the White House.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and to convincing other countries to follow suit,” the White House said.
Trump also reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to defend Japan and South Korea from “any attack.”
Abe told the Associated Press Trump promised to “take all necessary measures to protect” Japan.