Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will tell his counterparts in China that the US is prepared to increase financial penalties against Chinese companies and banks that do business with North Korea, according to senior US officials.
Tillerson will deliver this message on his first official trip to Asia, a three-country tour that promises to be a tightrope walk of diplomatic tensions — and nowhere more so than in Beijing, North Korea’s closest ally and protector.
While Tillerson will tell Beijing that the US is tired of Chinese companies helping facilitate Pyongyang’s weapons program, he’ll also seek to engage Chinese support for a broader attempt to rein in North Korea — resembling the international coalition that created the Iran nuclear deal. He’ll do this as he lays the groundwork for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US in April.
Tillerson will also engage on the usual areas of US-Chinese tension, including the country’s claims to contested waters in the South China Sea; trade; the status of Taiwan; and the recent US deployment of a defensive missile system and drones to South Korea.