China defended its trade practices on Tuesday after Chinese-made vehicles were seen towing ballistic missiles during a North Korea military parade despite global sanctions against selling military hardware to Pyongyang.
"I think it's encouraging to see China continue to move forward and join us in this effort to control North Korea", White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a regular briefing.
The U.S. has scheduled a high-level open meeting of the Security Council on North Korean nonproliferation for April 28. "How do you want neighboring countries to view China?" he asked.
"There is no time to lose because all of the money North Korea has is being used for nuclear investment and research which would enable the country to jump another hurdle", he said.
Whether or not China's policies change, however, is another question entirely. It test-fired a missile on Sunday that exploded within seconds of launch, following a grand military parade on Saturday.
"I have noted the recent report". He has since praised China for trying to increase pressure on Pyongyang.
Earlier this year, China called on the United States and North Korea to give up something to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Beijing has signed up to United Nations sanctions against North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, and in February vowed to halt coal imports, but trade and finance continue. In addition, there is no evidence of any splits within Pyongyang relating to the nuclear programme that might be exploited.
The language on North Korea's nuclear program was more straightforward. North Korea is already the lowest spending of all the world's nuclear states, and given its perceptions of its security environment, the nuclear programme is likely to be one of the last areas in which it would cut spending too.
But President Trump gave the North Koreans a clear signal that his foreign policy would be very different than his predecessor's. As such, Beijing has tended to opt for visible measures, such as the banning of coal imports, to send a message to both Pyongyang as well as to the United States, but do not gravely imperil the stability of the North Korean regime.
Little hope is held for reviving the motion against North Korea - one diplomat said it was unlikely the Security Council would be able to resolve differences on the statement.
China's views, on the other hand, are shaped much by its own experience in that it sees North Korea as potentially following a path of reformed socialism. Council members can also "recommit to implementing all existing and future sanctions to maximize pressure on the DPRK to return to meaningful negotiations on denuclearization", the paper says. The fact it failed doubtless also softened responses.
Vice President Mike Pence, visiting the demilitarized zone on Monday, said the U.S. had no more strategic patience with North Korea was considering military force against the regime.
Kevin Gray is a senior lecturer in worldwide relations at the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.