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Tillerson: U.S. cannot accept China's 'empty promises' over N. Korea

All Headlines 00:02 January 12, 2017

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- Incoming U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state strongly criticized China on Wednesday for failing to put enough pressure on North Korea, saying the U.S. can no longer accept Beijing's "empty promises."

The remark, made by Rex Tillerson during his Senate confirmation hearing, is in line with Trump's repeated criticism of China for not helping the U.S. with the North, and suggests the incoming administration intends to ramp up pressure on Beijing.

"We cannot continue to accept empty promises like the ones China has made to pressure North Korea to reform, only to shy away from enforcement. Looking the other way when trust is broken only encourages more bad behavior. And it must end," Tillerson planned to say in a statement.

Tillerson also said that "adversaries like Iran and North Korea pose grave threats to the world."

It was the first time Tillerson has publicly mentioned North Korea since his nomination last month.

Tillerson: U.S. cannot accept China's 'empty promises' over N. Korea - 1

Trump has repeatedly criticized China for not using its influence over Pyongyang to rein in the recalcitrant neighbor, even raising questions why the U.S. should stick to the "one-China" policy of diplomatically recognizing only Beijing, not Taiwan, when China is uncooperative over the North.

China is North Korea's last-remaining major ally and a key provider of food and fuel supplies. But it has been reluctant to use its influence over Pyongyang for fears that pushing the regime too hard could result in instability in the North and hurt Chinese national interests.

Beijing often increased pressure on the North in the past, especially when Pyongyang defied international appeals and carried out nuclear and missile tests and other provocative acts, but it never went as far as to cause real pain to the North.

Trump nominated Tillerson last month despite concern that the Exxon Mobile CEO is too close to Russia.

Tillerson, who joined Exxon straight from college as a production engineer in 1975 and rose to its helm in 2006, has concluded major deals with the Russian state-run corporation Rosneft and developed a personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He received Russia's "Order of Friendship" from Putin in 2013.

Thursday's hearing was expected to focus on his relations with Russia amid persisting allegations that Moscow was behind a series of hacking attacks accused of interfering with the U.S. presidential election in an effort to help Trump win the vote.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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