BEIJING — President Trump arrived in China on Wednesday, primed to ask his host, President Xi Jinping, to step up Chinese pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. But Mr. Trump’s latest foray into personal diplomacy may end in frustration, as the Communist strongman he calls his friend either cannot, or does not want to, do the job.
Mr. Trump, a senior administration official said, plans to call on the Chinese leader to cut off oil exports to North Korea, at least temporarily; to close down North Korean bank accounts in China; and to send home tens of thousands of North Koreans who work in China.
While Mr. Xi may move incrementally in Mr. Trump’s direction, experts said he was unlikely to fundamentally alter China’s dynamic with North Korea, a onetime client state with whom its relations have steadily soured during the reign of Kim Jong-un.
“There are big differences in the way of thinking between the United States and China on North Korea,” said Yang Xiyu, a former Chinese Foreign Ministry negotiator on North Korea. “Trump thinks of North Korea too simplistically — that if China cuts off the oil, the nuclear issue will be solved.”