US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to visit North Korea next week for what he described as the next stage in ensuring the “final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea”.
But Trump, following independent reports that North Korea has done little or nothing to roll back its nuclear programme, postponed Pompeo’s trip on Friday.
“Because of our much tougher trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearisation as they once were” despite UN sanctions against the nuclear-armed regime, Trump said.
Beijing hit back at Trump’s “capricious” accusations in a statement posted on the foreign ministry website on Saturday.
“The US statement is contrary to basic facts and is irresponsible. We are seriously concerned about this,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in the statement.
“All parties concerned should … show more sincerity and flexibility, instead of being capricious and put the blame on others,” he said.
The trip would have been Pompeo’s fourth to North Korea, and the second since an historic summit on June 12 between Trump and Kim in Singapore.
Trump said on Friday that Pompeo would still head to North Korea “in the near future”, saying this was likely to occur when the US-China trading relationship is “resolved”.
White House officials did not immediately comment on what prompted Trump to call off Pompeo’s trip. The Department of State had no immediate comment on the matter and referred questions to the White House.
The US and China have been locked in a trade dispute for months, with each side ratcheting up tariffs on imports from the other country.
The world’s two largest economies are engaged in an escalating trade war, exchanging tit-for-tat tariffs on $100bn in goods, with the most recent levies imposed by both sides on Thursday.