US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in remarks to reporters in Australia on Monday, noted that the increasing ballistic missile weapon testing program by the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) must be curbed by Beijing, Pyongyang's largest trading partner.
The DPRK has ratcheted up its belligerent rhetoric in the face of increasingly strident demands from the US to end ballistic missile testing and underground nuclear detonations, particularly after Washington, in a not-so-veiled hint, offered that all options, including the use of its military, are being considered.
Pyongyang has reacted to Washington's threats, and additional UN economic sanctions, by speeding its weapons development, alarming regional US allies, including Japan and South Korea.
"China and other regional partners should also step up their efforts to help solve this security situation, which threatens not just that region, but really presents a threat to the entire world," Tillerson said, cited by Japan Times.
Washington's top diplomat, while asking Beijing for assistance in diminishing the threat posed by Pyongyang, also sought to control China's territorial expansion, particularly in the disputed South China Sea, stating: "We cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it's militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failing to put appropriate pressure on North Korea."
Beijing has consistently rejected the notion that it must bear the brunt of responsibility for reining in the DPRK.
On Friday the UN Security Council initiated additional sanctions on Pyongyang, including freezing assets and placing a global travel ban on 14 high-ranking DPRK officials and several state-run business entities.
Pyongyang angrily denounced the new UN sanctions, saying in a statement that the nation "condemns and outrightly rejects the sanctions racket put forth by the United States and the UN Security Council to prevent the strengthening of our nuclear deterrence," according to a DPRK foreign ministry spokesperson.
The Korean Central News Agency, DPRK's official news outlet, stated that the US has "talked about the possibility of dialogue but it is nonsense to mention dialogue while laying out unfair preconditions and applying maximum pressure."
In light of ongoing improvements and upgrades to the US nuclear arsenal by the Pentagon, Pyongyang has described Washington's suppression of similar moves by other nations as an "ultimate double standard," cited by Japan Times.
The DPRK has launched three ballistic missiles in the last three weeks, lending credence to their oft-stated desire to field the capacity to strike the US mainland with a nuclear weapon.