U.S. missile strikes on Syria overshadowed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first summit with President Donald Trump and sharpened the focus on possible American military force against Beijing’s ally in North Korea.
The Chinese government avoided directly criticizing Washington over Friday’s strike, which U.S. officials say was in response to a chemical weapons attack by Syria’s government forces on civilians in the country—an accusation denied by Damascus.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman instead reiterated Beijing’s call for a United Nations investigation into the chemical weapons attack. China has long opposed unilateral military action and has joined Russia in vetoing several U.N. Security Council resolutions against Syria.
China has also lobbied the Trump administration in recent weeks to pursue only peaceful means to curb North Korea’s nuclear program following statements from U.S. officials they were considering military force among their options.
Trump’s Syria gambit backs up his bellicose rhetoric with military action for the first time, shifting from the Obama administration’s more cautious approach and signaling to other global antagonists that a muscular military posture is back in Washington.
An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.
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U.S. President Donald Trump is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time, hosting him at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib previews four things to look out for: tone, trade, Taiwan and North Korea. Photo: Getty