China urges Trump to tone down North Korea rhetoric

President Xi Jinping tells US president to avoid ‘words and deeds’ that provoke Pyongyang as threat of war escalates.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.

Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump escalated his warnings to North Korea, saying it would “truly regret” taking hostile action against the US.

China’s foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already tense situation, exercise restraint, and seek a political settlement.

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Beijing, said the message from Xi to Trump was made clear in the “short, but polite” telephone call.

“This was a chance for the Chinese president to show to his people that he is trying to take the lead in trying to resolve this crisis,” he said.

North Korea said it would complete plans by mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US Pacific island territory of Guam, after Trump said any threats by Pyongyang would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

Brown said China wants to avoid regime change in North Korea because it fears anarchy and a refugee influx. “President Xi doesn’t always, I think, believe that the US understands the difficult situation it is in and he feels that the US in some ways has been arm twisting China for the past couple of weeks.”

Both leaders also pressed Pyongyang to halt its own threats.

READ MORE: China – Military force won’t halt North Korea threat 

“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior. The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” a White House statement said.

The North’s official KCNA news service in an editorial blamed Trump for “driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war”, calling the US “the heinous nuclear war fanatic”.

Japanese media said Tokyo was deploying its Patriot missile defence system.

The defence ministry deployed the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system in Shimane, Hiroshima, and Kochi in western Japan, which North Korea had warned could be along its missiles’ flight path, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News said.

It also deployed the anti-missile system in neighbouring Ehime, according to the reports, while the Asahi Shimbun said one Maritime Self-Defence Force Aegis destroyer was stationed in the East Sea to shoot down airborne missiles.

Television footage showed military vehicles carrying launchers and other equipment for the surface-to-air system entering a Japanese base in Kochi before dawn.

US military forces “stand ready” to safeguard Guam after North Korea threatened to fire ballistic missiles towards the American Pacific island territory, the White House said early Saturday.

During a call with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo, Trump “reassured” him the “United States forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam, along with the rest of America,” a statement said.

INFOGRAPHIC: North Korea explained in graphics 

Guam’s government, meanwhile, issued fliers with emergency tips on what to do in case of a North Korean strike.  

If an attack warning is issued, Guam residents should take cover quickly – in a concrete structure, preferably underground – and stay there until instructed otherwise, according to a fact sheet titled “Preparing for an Imminent Missile Threat.”

Guam’s Office of Civil Defence began disseminating fact sheets on Friday.

“Do not look at the flash or fireball – it can blind you,” the missile threat prep fact sheet advises those who are caught outside. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head.”

The flier also offers guidance on removing radioactive material: “When possible, take a shower with lots of soap and water to help remove radioactive contamination.”

But don’t scratch or scrub skin and “do not use conditioner in your hair because it will bind radioactive material to your hair”.

On the streets of Guam, the outward appearance remained calm with the main concern being the approach of the typhoon season.

“To be honest, I’m more worried about the projectiles from the typhoons when we get strong winds than whatever projectiles Kim Jong-un says he will launch on Guam,” Janice Furukawa, a 58-year-old mother, said as she prepared her typhoon emergency kit at her home in the western village of Piti.

Trump assured Calvo that Guam is safe. “We are with you a 1,000 percent,” Trump said, according to video of the call posted on Calvo’s Facebook page. “You are safe.”

Calvo responded by saying he feels safe and confident with Trump’s leadership: “I’m glad you’re holding the helm, sir.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies