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China's leaders don't like Trump's North Korea talk; but some Chinese do

Anita Kumar, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

BEIJING -- While China firmly if politely distances itself from Donald Trump's bellicose rhetoric about North Korea, the Chinese people are cheering the U.S. president's tougher approach and more aggressive language.

"If Donald Trump can solve this problem, it will be a big favor to China," said Hu Xingdau, an economics professor in Beijing.

In a country where the Communist government strives to manage, even dictate, the views of its people, interviews with a variety of Chinese throughout Beijing society showed a core or support for Trump's style of confronting North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, who is known here as "Little Fatty."

"Trump is right on what he has been doing," said Beijing financial analyst Ding Yongliang at China Investment Securities through a translator. "North Korea will only be submissive to power instead of peaceful negotiations."

Indeed, many Beijing residents told McClatchy that they hope Trump will persuade China President Xi Jinping to move more aggressively on the nuclear threat next-door and stop relying solely on negotiations. Hu even suggested the United States should abolish North Korea's nuclear missile facilities or launch a pre-emptive strike against the rogue nation.

"It's impossible to solve the problem with just peaceful negotiations," he said through a translator. "I want the issue solved as soon as possible."

Several of those interviewed worried about the consequences of talking to foreign media and only agreed to speak if the names of their employers were withheld.

Trump who came to China for a two-day visit this week in part to push Xi to do more to thwart North Korea's nuclear ambitions, left largely empty-handed. Xi mentioned the issue only briefly at a joint statement to reporters while Trump toned down his rhetoric after being feted with what the Chinese are calling a "state visit-plus," a lavish two-day event that included a formal arrival ceremony in Tiananmen Square complete with a red carpet, a military parade and a 21-gun salute, and tour of the Forbidden City.

Xi reiterated he would enforce the sanctions against North Korea approved by the United Nations Security Council, including China. The package sets a cap for oil shipments to North Korea, bans North Korean textile exports and prohibits the authorization of new work permits for North Koreans.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters later that Xi told Trump that the sanctions will take some time to work. "There's no space between both of our objectives," he said. "Clearly, we have our own views of the tactics and the timing and how far to go with pressure, and that's what we spent a lot of timing exchanging views on."

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