Posts Tagged ‘economic war with China’

US launches China trade secret probe

August 19, 2017

The top US trade negotiator has described China’s industrial policies as a “very serious problem.” US President Donald Trump has accused China of cheating the US economy out of “hundreds of billions of dollars.”

A US flag and China flag at a hotel in Peking (picture-alliance/AP Photo)

Washington on Friday launched a formal investigation into China’s alleged theft of US intellectual property days after US President Donald Trump urged the American trade representative to consider a probe.

“After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Friday announcing the start of an inquiry concerning intellectual property.

Read more: Can Trump succeed in curbing China’s intellectual property ‘theft’?

US companies operating in China have long complained about China’s failure to protect industrial secrets. However, they have also been reluctant to press hard against Beijing in fear of losing access to China’s expansive market.

Even before assuming office, Trump railed against US trade policy with China. He has accused the communist nation of cheating the US economy out of “hundreds of billions of dollars in trade.”

“China has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the US in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice,” Trump said in a sarcastic tweet published in July.

China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!

China will ‘not sit idle’

Earlier this week, Lighthizer said China’s industrial policies have posed a “very serious problem” to the American economy. Read more: China is US’ biggest creditor once again

Beijing has yet to respond to the investigation. However, earlier this week China said it would “not side idle” if the US took action that undermined trade ties, warning a strong response with “appropriate measures.”

The United States is China’s second-largest trading partner following the European Union. In 2016, the US had a trade deficit with China of nearly $310 billion (268.7 billion euros).

ls/sms (AFP, Reuters)



Steve Bannon, Back At Breitbart: “Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency.”

August 19, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

By Harriet Alexander, David Millward Barney Henderson

defiant Steve Bannon declared the Trump presidency he had campaigned for was over as he vowed to carry on the fight after being ousted as the White House chief strategist.

Within hours of leaving his office,  Mr Bannon was back at Breitbart, the right wing website he ran, presiding over the evening news conference.

In interviews he made it clear he was not going quietly as he rounded on those he held responsible for his departure.

 Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” he told the Weekly Standard, a right-wing newspaper   “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” he continued.

“But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

He added: “I feel jacked up. Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons,” he added as he vowed “Bannon the barbarian” would crush the opposition.

“There’s no doubt. I built a —–ng machine at Breitbart.  And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”

His loyalty to Donald Trump remained undimmed.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,”  he told Bloomberg.

Earlier Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary said Mr Bannon, 63,  had departed “by mutual agreement.”

The White House then issued a statement, saying that the decision was agreed by Mr Bannon and John Kelly, the chief of staff – a sign of Mr Kelly’s grappling to control the chaos, or perhaps simply to avoid Mr Trump having to put his name to the firing of the man who most connects him to his diehard supporters.

Joel Pollack, Breitbart’s  editor at large, tweeted a one-word response to Mr Bannon’s departure: “War”.

Mr Bannon was controversial from the start.

Combative and unapologetic, the former Goldman Sachs financier was employed by Mr Trump as his campaign manager in August 2016, and described at the time as “the most dangerous political operative in America”.

He urged Mr Trump to pursue a populist path, and pressed him to hammer Hillary Clinton as corrupt – reportedly coming up with the “lock her up” chant that reverberated around his rallies.

It was Mr Bannon, with fellow hardliner Stephen Miller, who wrote Mr Trump’s inauguration speech – a dark and foreboding depiction of the “American carnage” that Mr Trump believed he had been elected to stop.

He was often at odds with the “globalist” wing of the White House – Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law; his wife Ivanka Trump; H.R. McMaster, the head of the national security council; and Gary Cohn, director of the national economic council.

Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

Mr Bannon reportedly referred to them in private as “the New Yorkers” and “the Democrats”, among more printable nicknames, and tried to steer his boss away from them and towards his own nationalist sympathisers.

At first the president thought fondly of his flame-throwing ideologue, who was seen to wield immense behind-the-scenes power inside the White House.

Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

Gary Cohn

Saturday Night Live depicted him as the grim reaper, playing Mr Trump like a puppet – something that reportedly amused Mr Bannon, but enraged his boss.

His departure had been described as imminent before, but since Charlottesville the drum beat of demise rose to a frenzy.

Mr Trump was reported earlier this week to have not spoken face-to-face with Mr Bannon in over a week, and on Tuesday, at the now infamous press conference in which he defended white supremacists, Mr Trump could only offer a lukewarm endorsement, responding to a question about Mr Bannon’s future with: “We’ll see.”

That press conference sparked condemnation of a president never before seen in the United States – the heads of the military spoke out against their commander-in-chief, and the UN secretary-general voiced concern. Titans of industry who Mr Trump had so assiduously courted on the campaign trail deserted him in droves, leading to the folding of both his business advisory panels.

On Friday the arts council resigned en masse – the first White House agency to do so.

Political condemnation was also snowballing, leading astonished Americans to ask where this could all end.

Bob Corker, a senior Republican loyalist and chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, who was considered for secretary of state, declared that “the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to” in dealing with crises.

And, while Mr Trump sought to shift Thursday from the white supremacists to the future of statues, he was criticised by Rupert Murdoch’s son James, in an email widely circulated.

“I can’t believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists,” he wrote.

Rumblings of discontent from Mr Trump’s staff grew so loud that the White House was forced to release a statement saying that Gary Cohn, Mr Trump’s chief economic adviser, was not quitting.

The Dow Jones suffered its worst day since May on Thursday, but rebounded slightly on the news that Mr Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, was staying put.

Mr Cohn will certainly not be crying over the departure of Mr Bannon. Mr Bannon perhaps sealed his own fate this week by telephoning a reporter with The American Prospect, a Left-wing publication, to contradict his boss – and suggest that he was deciding who was in and who was out in the state department.

“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” said Mr Bannon, directly undermining Mr Trump’s vow to respond if attacked.

Asked about his rivals at the departments of state, defence and treasury, who wanted to keep China on side by avoiding trade wars, Mr Bannon was unrepentant.

“They’re wetting themselves,” he said. “I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in.”

But Mr Bannon may not go quietly.

One of the reasons Mr Trump was said to have delayed dismissing him was fear of “weaponising” Mr Bannon, if he was unleashed from the White House.

A friend of Mr Bannon said he intended to return to Breitbart, adding: “This is now a Democrat White House”.

Bannon ‘in good spirits’

Quoting  a “friend”,  the Wall Street Journal, said Mr Bannon seemed to be in good spirits, following his departure from the White House.

“Steve has always been a gunslinger. This allows him to be a gunslinger again.”

Trump ‘ceding dangerous ground to the media and establishment’

Kristin Tate, a conservative columnist, warns that Donald Trump has ceded dangerous ground to the establishment.

“There is no compromise with the Never-Trumpers and Democrats over the role of chief strategist,” she writes in The Hill, a political website.

” Personnel is policy, and Trump is ceding his ace for a player to be named later. That’s not good enough for the people who made his movement happen.

Bernie: The problem wasn’t Bannon, it was Trump


Steve Bannon ‘said he resigned from White House two weeks ago’


CNN says ‘Gorka could go’

Citing unnamed “sources”, CNN is saying that Sebastian Gorka, Donald Trump’s deputy assistant, could be the next to go.

Born in the UK to Hungarian parents, British educated Mr Gorka, has also been a controversial figure in the White House.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, suit and beard

Seen as a hardliner, he was openly critical of Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, when he suggested the US could negotiate with North Korea over nuclear weapons.

But Mr Trump is reported to be a fan of Mr Gorka’s combative style and his forthright defence of the administration in his media appearances.


Another White House departure

Steve Bannon is not the only senior figure leaving the White House,according to Politico.

George Sifakis, director of the Office of Public Liaison since March, is reportedly on his way out.

A close friend and ally of Reince Preibus, the former White House chief of staff,   Mr Sifakis was an aide to George W Bush.


Nigel Farage says Bannon will be missed


Bannon meets billionaire donor to plot next steps

Axios, the authoritative Washington website, reports that Mr Bannon met with billionaire Republican donor Bob Mercer to plan their next moves.

Image result for Bob Mercer, photos

They write:

Bob Mercer and Steve Bannon had a five hour meeting Wednesday to plot out next steps, said a source withknowledge of the meeting.

They plotted strategy going forward — both political and media strategy. The meeting was at Mercer’s estate on Long Island. Mercer had dinner the next night at Bedminster with President Trump and a small group of donors. The source said Mercer and Bannon “remain strong supporters of President Trump’s and his agenda.”



Democrat leader responds

Steve Bannon’s exit does not erase @realDonaldTrump’s long record of lifting up racist viewpoints & advancing repulsive policies. 


Four down…

This January 28 photo shows Donald Trump and his advisers inside the Oval Office. Of the six in the picture, only the president and vice president remain – Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon have all left.


Breitbart’s editor-at-large responds to Steve Bannon’s ouster

Why Trump thinks he can win on race

August 18, 2017

BBC News

    • 18 August 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions about his response to the violence, injuries and deaths at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville as he talks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 15, 2017REUTERS

On Wednesday night the talk of Washington was whether Steve Bannon, thanks to his candid interview with Robert Kuttner, the co-founder of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, had ensured his own dismissal as a senior presidential adviser.

On Thursday morning it became readily apparent that, whether or not Mr Bannon remains, Bannonism – if that’s what it can properly be called – is firmly entrenched in the White House.

Donald Trump, in a series of tweets, bashed his Republican opponents and the media and defended Confederate Civil War monuments – the cause for which white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched last weekend.

The president appears to be forcing exactly the kind of fight with progressive groups that Mr Bannon, in his interview, said he welcomed.

“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em,” Mr Bannon said. “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, in April at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Tuesday and again on Thursday the president made a decided effort to shift the debate from one about the acceptability of white nationalism – a gentle way of describing the racists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klanners who marched with torches and fought with counter-demonstrators last weekend – and onto more stable footing.

A recent Marist poll shows that a majority of Americans support (62%) allowing “statues honouring the leaders of the Confederacy” to “remain as historical symbols”.

Image captionBannon may be out of favour but not his ideology

While the survey question was a bit loaded (the other option was to remove them “because they are offensive to some people”), the bottom line is clear.

While Americans overwhelming reject racism and white supremacists, a debate over weather-worn statues cuts much more in Mr Trump’s favour.

Liberals will point out that the “historical” nature of the statues includes that they were largely erected in the early 20th Century, when southern states were codifying government-sanctioned segregation; that some of these “beautiful” statues, in Mr Trump’s words, are accompanied by exceedingly racist text; and that local governments, reflecting the will of their residents, are the ones opting to remove the statues.

That is all well and good, but if that debate also means Democrats abandon bread-and-butter economic issues, Mr Bannon’s side will welcome the exchange.

More than an issue of race, Mr Trump set up his defence of the statues as an attempt to protect a way of life under attack.

“You are changing history and culture,” the president said on Tuesday.

And in his tweet on Thursday: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.”

With his “ripped apart” imagery, Mr Trump is playing into the anxiety of Americans – explicitly about the anxiety over cultural change, but those sentiments go hand-in-hand with the financial uncertainty and upheaval that has wracked the nation since the Great Recession of 2008.

That was a central theme of Mr Trump’s winning presidential campaign, an appeal to lower-middle- and middle-class voters who, even if they weren’t personally devastated by the economic freefall and slow rebound over the preceding eight years, could see the chasm from where they stood.

“These are men and women who are, in the main, still working, still attending church, still members of functioning families, but who often live in communities where neighbours, relatives, friends and children have been caught up in disordered lives,” was how New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall describes them.

“The worry that this disorder has become contagious – that decent working or middle class lives can unravel quickly – stalks many voters, particularly in communities where jobs, industries and a whole way of life have slowly receded, the culminating effect of which can feel like a sudden blow.”

Mr Trump railed against change – a return to when America was “great”. And the statue debate, as he’s constructing it, snugly fits that theme.

In his interview, Mr Bannon dismissed what he called “ethnonationalists” as a “collection of clowns”, but that view seems more an attempt to put his liberal interviewer at ease.

Elsewhere, Mr Bannon has boasted that Breitbart, the publication he used to head, was a “platform for the alt-right” – the anodyne term for the collection of white nationalist groups that have seen a resurgence in power and numbers as Mr Trump campaign gathered strength.

Mr Bannon needs nationalists of all stripes – white, economic, even left-leaning populists and anti-trade liberals like Kuttner – for the new political order he hopes to build that will be willing to wage an economic war against China.

Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother: ‘They tried to kill my child to shut her up’

“To me the economic war with China is everything,” Mr Bannon said. “And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Standing between himself and a successful prosecution of this showdown are global elites, including establishment politicians, the mainstream media, financial conglomerates and even Trump administration officials like Goldman Sachs executive turned White House economic advisor Gary Cohn.

If these themes sound familiar, it’s because they were interwoven into Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, particularly after Mr Bannon joined the team in August 2016. They were also a central focus of Mr Trump’s combative inaugural address in January.

If one squints the right way, all of Mr Trump’s recent actions can be seen as part of this overarching strategy. There’s the non-stop battles with the “fake news” mainstream press. The seemingly unnecessary fights with members of his own party, including Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. And the recent announced administration probe of Chinese intellectual property practices, with promises of more trade actions to come.

Squint another way, of course, and Mr Trump’s strategy devolves into the fits and starts of a chief executive who reacts to perceived slights and counter-punches whenever he feels disparaged. The embrace of the Confederate statues is a response to liberal criticism of his handling of the Charlottesville unrest. The feuds with Republicans are because they won’t do his bidding. The media-bashing is because reporters aren’t treating him with appropriate respect.

What Trump said versus what I saw – by the BBC’s Joel Gunter

“I think the president enjoys a scrap with the press,” says Ron Christie, a former adviser to President George W Bush. “I think he believes this is about him and the press and how he’s going to beat the press. What he doesn’t recognise is that the importance of being the president of the United States is to unify the country, to bring people together and to heal divisive wounds.”

As Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey write in Politico, Mr Trump’s behaviour can be boiled down to a collection of anger triggers.

“White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticises him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him,” they write.

If Mr Trump’s actions are part of a larger strategy, and not a fit of pique, there is also the question of whether it’s correct to attribute this to Mr Bannon at all.

While he appears more than willing to take credit for the strategy, the larger themes of the Trump “movement” – border security, aggressive trade protectionism, immigration reform and a certain kind of cultural nostalgia – were well in place before his arrival, as Mr Trump himself likes to point out.

Mr Bannon may have given ideological focus to what was a flailing Trump campaign last August, but the raw material was all Trump’s. And this week – as always – the man at the lectern, the man with his finger on the Twitter trigger, is the president.

The “Make America Great Again” slogan isn’t Bannonism. It’s Trumpism. But whatever you call it, that strain of politics is woven into the fabric of this presidency.



Steve Bannon Interview Raises New Questions About His Standing at White House

August 18, 2017

Less than three weeks ago, a similar interview with Anthony Scaramucci resulted in his ouster

Updated Aug. 17, 2017 6:19 p.m. ET

Steve Bannon’s standing as White House chief strategist took a hit after a liberal political magazine published an extended interview in which he referred to white supremacist groups as “clowns,” said President Donald Trump’s pro-business advisers were “wetting themselves” and—contrary to the president’s public positions—dismissed the potential for military action in North Korea.

People close to Mr. Bannon were concerned Thursday…


Bannon’s interview: A blunder or intentional ploy?


  • Some sources say Steve Bannon intentionally spoke to the American Prospect
  • The remarkable comments were reminiscent of what got Bannon into hot water earlier this year

Bridgewater, New Jersey (CNN) — White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is privately offering shifting and conflicting explanations for the strikingly candid interview that could further imperil his already shaky standing inside the West Wing.


Sources close to Bannon first said the chief strategist did not know he was being interviewed when he spoke over the phone with Robert Kuttner, the co-editor of The American Prospect. But the same sources now say the chief strategist granted the interview as part of a ploy to distract from the criticism President Donald Trump has been facing over his response to the violence in Charlottesville sparked by a white supremacist rally.
“Bannon knew full well this would distract from criticism,” a source familiar with Bannon’s thinking said.
A second source familiar with Bannon’s thinking said the chief strategist was trying “to divert attention from Charlottesville criticism” by offering the controversial comments to the American Prospect reporter, knowing the comments would grip headlines.
Bannon has declined to comment and did not respond to CNN’s inquiry asking about the conflicting accounts.
Bannon’s remarks may have served to momentarily divert attention from the President’s controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, but his comments also offered damaging insight into the divisions inside the Trump administration and showed the chief strategist undercutting the President on the most significant national security issue facing the administration.
While Trump promised to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea should the rogue regime continue to threaten or attempt to strike the US or its allies, Bannon dismissed North Korea as a “sideshow” to the larger economic conflicts between the US and China and argued there is “no military solution” to the crisis.
The remarkable comments were reminiscent of what got Bannon into hot water earlier this year, when a narrative began to set in that he was effectively running the White House.
Bannon also offered unprompted criticism of fellow advisers to the president, including National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, whom Bannon placed among those he is fighting “every day” to push a harder line on international trade issues.
Those comments in particular could land Bannon in trouble with the President and his recently-installed chief of staff John Kelly, who just two weeks earlier ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci after he badmouthed colleagues in vulgar terms to The New Yorker.
Scaramucci later said he did not believe his conversation with The New Yorker reporter had been on the record, and later conceded he made a mistake.
Robert Kuttner, the Prospect editor who interviewed Bannon on Tuesday, wrote in his article that “the question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up.”
“This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America,” Kuttner wrote.
Bannon, the former Breitbart chief, is known for being particular media savvy and — like other experienced Washington hands — knows that all conversations with reporters are on the record unless an agreement is reached beforehand.

China Warns U.S. Against ‘Trade War’

August 17, 2017

BEIJING — China’s government on Thursday warned “there is no winner in a trade war” after an aide to President Donald Trump called in published comments for a tougher stance toward Beijing.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, appealed for dialogue to preserve stable relations when asked about the comments by Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

In comments to The American Prospect posted online, Bannon said the United States is in an “economic war” with China. He recommended pursuing a trade investigation of Beijing’s technology policies and anti-dumping action over Chinese exports of steel and aluminum.

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

“There is no winner in a trade war,” Hua said at a regular news briefing. “We hope the relevant people can refrain from dealing with a problem in the 21st century with a zero-sum mentality from the 19th or the 20th century.”

Hua appealed for dialogue to “preserve the sound and steady growth of China-U.S. relations.”

On Monday, Trump instructed U.S. trade officials to look into whether to launch a formal investigation into whether Beijing improperly requires foreign companies to hand over technology as a condition of market access.

The Chinese government criticized that as a violation of the spirit of global trade rules. It warned it will take “all appropriate measures” if Chinese companies are hurt.


Trump Gets New Reasons To Fire Steve Bannon After White House Aide Gives Interview

August 17, 2017

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, in April at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Washington (CNN)  Steve Bannon disparaged the mindset that motivates white supremacists in an interview published Wednesday, calling the group “a collection of clowns.”


“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers,” Bannon reportedly said in an interview published by the progressive magazine American Prospect.
The White House chief strategist’s comments follow a weekend of turmoil in the United States after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and forced a state of emergency. One woman was killed and several of her fellow counter-protesters were injured when a car plowed through a crowd. In the days following the incident, President Donald Trump made a series of remarks — some off the cuff — that were strongly rebuked by politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The former editor of the far-right news website Breitbart is a controversial figure within the White House.
A source close to Bannon told CNN he did not believe he was being interviewed when he spoke with the co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect earlier this week.
“It was no interview,” the source said.
Bannon and the White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Earlier this week, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida, named Bannon and Stephen Miller as individuals he thought were trying to accommodate the alt-right or white nationalists from within the West Wing, and advised the President to stop listening to them.
But Bannon’s comments to the Prospect pushed back on that notion.
“It’s a fringe element,” Bannon told the magazine’s co-founder Robert Kuttner about white nationalists within Trump’s base. “I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
He added: “These guys are a collection of clowns.”
Kuttner wrote that Bannon never asked for his remarks to be off the record.
“The question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up. This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America,” Kuttner wrote.



Bannon Mocks Colleagues and ‘Alt-Right’ in Interview

South Korea’s Moon Says North Korean Nuclear-Tipped ICBM Is a ‘Red Line’

August 17, 2017

SEOUL — North Korea would be “crossing a red line” if it put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea’s president said on Thursday, but the United States had promised to seek Seoul’s approval before taking any military action.

North Korea’s rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fueled a surge in tensions in recent days. Pyongyang has threatened to fire missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam and U.S. President Donald Trump has warned it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.

“I would consider that North Korea is crossing a red line if it launches an intercontinental ballistic missile again and weaponizes it by putting a nuclear warhead on top of the missile,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at a news conference marking his first 100 days in office.

Image may contain: 1 person

Moon Jae-in at the Blue House. EPA Photo

Moon has repeatedly urged North Korea not to “cross the red line” but had not previously elaborated what that would constitute.

Trump had promised to seek negotiations and approval from South Korea before taking any options regarding North Korea, Moon also said.

The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Washington has warned it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action.


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in Chile on Wednesday that “all options” remained on the table with regards to North Korea, and he called on Latin American nations to break ties with Pyongyang.

However, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said there was “no military solution” to North Korea’s nuclear threats because of Pyongyang’s massed artillery targeting the South Korean capital.

Image result for Pyongyang's massed artillery, photos

North Korea’s massed artillery

“Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” Bannon told The American Prospect.

China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, has repeatedly urged Pyongyang to halt its weapons program and at the same time urged South Korea and the United States to stop military drills in order to lower tensions.

Image may contain: 1 person, crowd and outdoor

North Korean people march in support of their leader, Kim Jong un

Bannon said he was pushing the U.S. administration to take a harder line on China trade and not put complaints against its trade practices in the backseat in the hope that Beijing would help restrain leader Kim Jong Un.

“To me, the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that,” The American Prospect quoted Bannon as saying.


Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, told Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that China believes the only effective way to resolve the North Korean issue is through talks.

Image result for Dunford, China, Photos

U.S. Chairman on the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford with China’s PLA General Fang Fenghui. AP photo

“China believes that dialogue and consultations are the only effective avenue to resolve the peninsula issue, and that military means cannot become an option,” China’s Defence Ministry cited Fan as saying.

Dunford told reporters in Beijing that a peaceful option was the preferred solution but nobody thought economic pressure alone can result in denuclearization.

Dialing back military exercises was not currently on the negotiating table with North Korea, Dunford said.

North Korea sees joint South Korea-U.S. military drills as a preparation for war. The latest exercise is scheduled to start on Aug 21, involving tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops.

In the past, North Korea has fired missiles and taken other steps in response to the war games.

North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim had delayed the decision on firing four missiles towards Guam, a U.S. territory home to a vital air base and Navy facility, while he waited to see what the United States did next.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”

Trump’s National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster met Japan’s defense and foreign ministers in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the importance of deterring North Korea’s provocations and Tokyo’s ballistic missile defenses, according to the Japanese government.

(Additional reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, and Linda Sieg in TOKYO; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait)