Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is asked on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” program, “What message did the Chinese take from US action in Syria?” Tillerson responded, “Well, the president, I think, very thoughtfully and rightfully, did notify President Xi Jinping at the end of the dinner on the evening of the attack. I think, out of respect to President Xi, he wanted to explain to him the rationale for the US action, why it was taken and why he felt it was necessary.”
Tillerson wasn’t standing nearby at the time, but says, “My understanding is that President Xi said, ‘well, no one should kill children.’ The Chinese have since issued their own statement on the attack itself.”
John Dickerson asked a question more directly related to the Chinese and their actions, quoting President Trump in the process as having said, “If China doesn’t act in North Korea then we will.” Dickerson asked Tillerson, “Did the Chinese get that message from this meeting over the weekend?”
Tillerson responded, “I can tell you that both of the presidents had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea, they had a very lengthy exchange on the subject yesterday morning, I think it was a very useful and productive exchange. President Xi clearly understands and I think agrees that the situation has intensified, it has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken.
Tillerson continued, “And indeed the Chinese, even themselves have said that they do not believe the conditions are right today to engage in discussions with the government in Pyongyang. And so what, I think, we’re hopeful, is that we can work together with the Chinese to change the conditions in the minds of the DPRK leadership and then at that point perhaps discussions might be useful.”
He adds, “But I think there’s a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become and I think even China is beginning to recognize that this represents a threat to China’s interests as well.”
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