Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.
Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump ramped up his warnings to Pyongyang, saying it would “truly regret” taking hostile action against the United States.
China’s foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already-tense situation, exercise restraint, and seek a political settlement.
Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Beijing, said the message from Xi to Trump was made clear in the “short, but polite” telephone call.
“This was a chance for the Chinese president to show to his people that he is trying to take the lead in trying to resolve this crisis,” he said.
North Korea said it would complete plans by mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US Pacific island territory of Guam, after Trump said any threats by Pyongyang would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
Brown said China wants to avoid regime change in North Korea because it fears anarchy and a refugee influx. “President Xi doesn’t always, I think, believe that the US understands the difficult situation it is in and he feels that the US in some ways has been arm twisting China for the past couple of weeks.”
Both leaders also pressed Pyongyang to halt its own threats.
“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior. The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” a White House statement said.