US President Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with China over bilateral trade issues and its inaction on North Korea and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, according to a new report.
According to three senior White House officials, Trump was looking at options including tariffs on steel imports from China.
“What's guiding this is he ran to protect American industry and American workers,” one of the US officials said, referring to Trump's 2016 election promise to take a hard line on trade with China.
But it remains unclear whether Trump would take any steps against China.
The officials further said there was no consensus on dealing with China and they did not say what other options were being studied.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross already has said he is considering tariffs on steel imports from China as part of a national security study of the US steel industry.
On North Korea, Trump “feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference” but has not seen enough results, the official said.
“We need to work together to deal with some of the pressing, difficult issues, such as the threat from North Korea. We want to work together to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” Terry Branstad, the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, said Wednesday.
Relations with North Korea were further complicated for Trump after the death of student Otto Warmbier last week. The student was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months and transferred to US in a coma in June.
Warmbier died a few days later due to extensive brain damage during his captivity, the Cincinnati Medical Center said.
Trump also signaled his disappointment with China's efforts last week, tweeting, "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!"
Since the meeting, however, North Korea has continued to conduct missile tests.
Washington has pressed Beijing to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang to help end it’s nuclear and missile programs. China has repeatedly said its influence on North Korea is limited and that it is doing all it can.