Anne Gearan and Anna Fifield
|A North Korean soldier takes a picture of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from outside the window during his visit Friday to Panmunjom, the truce village on the border between South and North Korea./ Pool photo by Yonhap.(남한과 북한 국경에있는 휴전 협곡 인 판문점을 방문한 북한군 병사가 렉스 틸러슨 국무 장관의 집무실 사진을 촬영하고 있다.) 워싱턴포스트|
The Trump administration challenged China to do more to pull its ally North Korea back from the nuclear brink as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bluntly declared Friday that the United States will do whatever is necessary to prevent a North Korean attack.
“All options are on the table,” Tillerson said in Seoul, where he underscored U.S. commitment to Asian allies threatened by North Korea and said he would lean on China during a visit there Saturday.
In Washington, President Donald Trump goaded China, which has extensive economic and political ties to North Korea but has resisted choking off the flow of money and military materials to its ally.
“North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “China has done little to help!”
China has repeatedly pledged to do more, but the Trump presidency, like the Obama and George W. Bush administrations before it, accuses Beijing of going easy on Pyongyang.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley went further, telling an interviewer Friday that the Trump administration is making a sharp pivot away from what she said was an ineffectual Obama strategy regarding China and North Korea.
“There was a soft approach to China in the past presidency and what I can tell you now is we’re going to go harder on China,” Haley said on Fox News. “We’re going to say, ‘Look, if you really are wanting to partner with this, if you really are wanting to stop the nuclear testing that is going on in North Korea, prove it.’ “
“We are going to go through and ask them to push towards sanctions and push towards talks with North Korea,” Haley said.
China says threats of military action by the United States or its allies South Korea and Japan, both within range of existing North Korean missiles, are unhelpful. Beijing favors further efforts to negotiate with North Korea, and hosted the last such international effort, which failed.
North Korea is known for its exaggerated and bellicose rhetoric, but the combination of threats and missile launches, coinciding with Chinese anger at South Korea for deploying an American antimissile battery, has raised tensions in the region to a level seldom seen in recent years.
Tillerson will be the first high-level Trump administration official to go to China, whose leaders were angered by Trump’s frequent bashing of Beijing over trade policies during the presidential campaign and his decision to speak with the elected leader of Taiwan in December.
Trump has tried to smooth the waters by assuring Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States does not want a trade war and will not upend the decades-old “one China” policy regarding Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province. Trump is expected to host Xi for a visit next month at Trump’s Florida estate.
In contrast, the Trump administration has never let up on campaign-trail criticism of China over North Korea. China is also incensed by ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises this month and the installation of the U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea.
The decision to put in the system was made by the Obama administration, and U.S. officials have always insisted it is intended solely for protection against North Korea. But Chinese officials are expected to confront Tillerson with complaints that the system could be used to spy on China.
The Chinese government is now banning many imports from South Korea and stopping Chinese tourist groups from traveling there to try to prompt Seoul to change its mind on the missile system.
Against that backdrop, Tillerson’s meetings in China probably will be the most difficult and most important of his trip.
“We will be discussing with them the serious threat that North Korea poses to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, but even beyond,” Tillerson said in Seoul.
The United States and its allies still have options on the spectrum between diplomatic talks and military action for persuading Kim and his regime to give up their nuclear weapons, he said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said earlier this year that North Korea is working on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland. Trump responded in a tweet: “It won’t happen!”
Tillerson has used his three-country Asian tour to underscore that the new Trump administration is fed up with years of North Korea policies that it sees as all carrot and no stick.
“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said at a news conference in Seoul with Yun Byung-se, the South Korean foreign minister. He was referring to the Obama administration policy of trying to wait North Korea out, hoping that sanctions would prove so crippling that Pyongyang would have no choice but to return to denuclearization negotiations.
In recent months, North Korea has been making observable progress toward its goal of building a missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.
In a surprise, Yun appeared to suggest that South Korea would support military options.
“We have various policy methods available,” said Yun, who is unlikely to remain in his position for much longer, as elections for a new government will be held in early May.
Yun likened the diplomatic effort to restrain North Korea to “a building” and said “military deterrence would be one of the pillars.”
Sanctions and diplomatic engagement so far have failed to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. But U.S. administrations have long considered military action as nearly impossible because North Korea has artillery aimed at Seoul, a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people just 30 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. Thousands of U.S. troops are also within range of potential North Korean shelling or chemical and biological attacks.
Earlier Thursday, Tillerson toured the joint security area in the Demilitarized Zone, a spot President Bill Clinton once famously described as “the scariest place on Earth.” North Korean soldiers in helmets were taking photos of Tillerson from just a few feet away as the secretary stood at the line and inside the meeting hut.
The line was arbitrarily drawn across the peninsula almost 64 years ago, at the end of the Korean War, by one of Tillerson’s predecessors as secretary of state, Dean Rusk, who was an Army colonel at the time. A reporter asked Tillerson on Friday if being at the DMZ brought home the threat of North Korea, but he did not respond.
-Fifield reported from Tokyo.
중국과 북한을 압박하는 렉스 틸러슨 미 국무장관
앤 기어란, 아나 피필드
트럼프 행정부가 중국과 북한을 압박하고 있다. 중국을 통해 북한의 위협을 제지하려는 심산이다.
국무장관 틸러슨은 북한을 위협을 막기위해 모든 방법들을 고려할 것이라고 말했다.
군사적 조치도 불사하겠다는 암시다.
최근까지도 중국은 북한에 대한 경제적 제제나 군수물자 조달을 중단하는 것과 같은 제제에 소극적인 자제를 취해왔다.
트럼프는 트위터를 통해 “북한이 잘못된 행동을 보이고 있습니다. 수년간 미국을 기만한 것이다” 고 말했다. “중국은 전혀 도움이 되지 않는다”
중국은 북한에 대해 더 적극적인 조치를 취할 것이라고 여러 번 약속했지만 변한 것은 없다. 트럼프는 중국을 직접적으로 비난했다.
유엔 대사 니키 헤일리는 트럼프 행정부가 지난 오바마 행정부와는 전혀 다른 대북정책을 보여주고 있다고 말했다. 그녀는 오바마 행정부의 중국과 북한관련 외교정책을 실패로 평가한다.
“지금까지 중국에 대해 유화적인 접근방식을 취해왔지만 앞으로는 보다 강경하게 나갈 것으로 보인다. 중국에게 경제 제제와 대화의 장을 마련하도록 밀어 부칠 것이다”
헤일리가 폭스 뉴스를 통해 말했다.
본래 북한은 강경하고 호전적인 성명을 발표하기로 알려져 있지만 최근 미사일 발사와 추가적인 위협들 그리고 사드배치 결정이 후 한국에 대한 중국의 분노와 겹쳐져 이 지역에는 지난 수년간 볼 수 없었던 수준으로 긴장감이 형성되어 있다.
중국정부는 여러 한국 상품들의 수입을 중단한 상태이고 자국민들이 한국에 여행을 가지 못하도록 막고 있다. 경제제재를 통해 사드 배치에 관한 한국의 마음을 돌리려는 의도이다.
이런 상황들을 고려 했을 때 틸러슨에게는 중국과의 미팅이 이번 일정 중 가장 까다로운 숙제일 것으로 보인다.
틸러슨 국무장관은 트럼프 정부 인사 중 처음으로 중국을 방문하게 된다.
이미 트럼프의 중국에 대한 강경 발언들과 12월 대만 총통과의 회담을 결정한 뒤로 중국 지도자들은 상당히 기분이 상해 있는 상황이다.
트럼프는 중국을 달래기 위해 시진핑 주석에게 미국이 무역전쟁을 원하지 않으며 중국의 ‘하나의 중국’ 노선을 뒤집으려는 의도가 없다고 확인시킨 바 있다.
트럼프는 다음달 시 주석을 플로리다에 있는 자신의 리조트에 초대할 예정이다.
사드배치는 본래 오바마 행정부에서 결정한 사항이다.
미국 인사들은 처음부터 사드배치의 목적은 오로지 북한의 위협으로부터 지역을 보호하는 것이라고 밝혀왔다.
그러나 중국 관계자들은 사드가 중국 지역을 엿보는데 사용될 수 있다는 논리로 틸러슨을 압박할 것으로 보인다.
“분명하게 말씀드린다. 대북정책에 대한 전략적 인내 방침은 끝났다.” 틸러슨은 서울에서 윤병세 장관과의 기자회견을 통해 의사를 밝혔다.
그는 북한이 경제제재에 결국 손을 들것이라는 전제하에 진행되어왔던 오바마 행정부의 방침을 거론하며 이야기했다.
놀랍게도 이번에는 윤병세 장관도 군사적 조치 또한 지지할 것이라는 입장을 밝혔다. 다음 정부가 5월 중 들어설 것이기 때문에 그는 장관직 임기가 얼마 남지 않았다.
윤 장관은 북한에 대한 외교적 노력을 건축물에 비유했고 군사적 조치 또한 건축물을 받치는 기둥의 하나라고 설명했다.
<저작권자 © 울산매일, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지> 저작권 문의