WASHINGTON — Faced with North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States, the Senate’s top Dem is arguing to President Trump that America must suspend all mergers and acquisitions by Chinese companies on U.S. soil until Beijing reins in Pyongyang.
The Friday launch from Mupyong-ni traveled about 620 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, the Pentagon said. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile traveled for about 45 minutes, exceeding Pyongyang’s Fourth of July launch of a Hwasong 14 capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii by about five minutes.
On Saturday, Trump, who has vacillated between affection and frustration for Xi Jingping since his Mar-a-Lago dinner with the Chinese premier, tweeted, “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
Asked during a cabinet meeting Monday what the administration is going to do about North Korea, Trump replied, “We’ll handle North Korea. We’ll be able to handle North Korea. It will be handled. We handle everything.”
Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to Trump asking that he use Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to put appropriate pressure on Beijing, assessing that “China will not deter North Korea unless the United States exacts greater economic pressure.”
More than 90 percent of North Korea’s trade is with neighbor China, and China’s trade with North Korea reportedly rose 34 percent over the past year, driven largely by the iron ore market.
“The robust China-North Korea economic and trade relationship makes it clear that China could exercise considerable leverage over the North Korean regime to alter course, but that far from trying to do so China’s leaders would prefer to contain the problem – not solve it,” Schumer wrote.
“If China does not change its posture, the U.S. should take clear and firm action to seek to ensure China’s cooperation. Suspending Chinese firms’ ability to acquire companies in the U.S. would be one such action,” he added. “The reported recent tightening of China’s outbound foreign direct investment (OFDI) controls in tandem with state funding for OFDI in many sectors indicate that major foreign investments in the U.S. from China are increasingly tied to state interests. It is my understanding that as many as 30 of the 80 transactions being reviewed by CFIUS are transactions with a Chinese nexus.”
“Under the CFIUS statute, the president has the authority to thoroughly review covered transactions that threaten to impair the national security of the United States. One of the considerations that the president must make in any CFIUS recommendation is whether the acquirer’s subject foreign country is adhering to nonproliferation control regimes, including treaties and multilateral supply guidelines, and to international sanctions regimes.”
Schumer emphasized that the United States “should remain open to foreign investment,” but “the security threat posed by China’s continued trade arrangements with North Korea justifies suspending approval of all CFIUS covered transactions where Chinese entities could gain a controlling interest.”
Schumer said on the Senate floor this morning that China is “taking a pass” on North Korea “as they have for over a decade.”
“President Trump began the year offering a ‘better trade deal’ to China if they put pressure on North Korea. That clearly hasn’t happened. The soft-touch approach has gotten us nowhere,” he added. “As usual with China, they only understand strength. China continues to do the bare minimum as North Korea becomes more and more bellicose.”
Asked at Monday’s briefing if the Trump administration is considering a first strike against North Korea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied, “As we’ve said many times before, the president is not going to broadcast any decisions, but all options are on the table.”
North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted today that China is standing up for Pyongyang in opposition to the sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and North Korea passed overwhelmingly by Congress and waiting for Trump’s signature. “China warned that the U.S. ‘secondary boycott’ targeting Chinese entities would bring about a serious clash between the two countries… It is only natural that the sanctions racket caused by the U.S is being subject to condemnation and rejection from all over the world for its illegality and impudence,” said the statement, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.