In response, Trump went on Twitter, criticizing China generally without ever singling out Chinese President Xi Jinping by name and using his favorite nickname — “Rocket Man” — for North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.
“The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote. “Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.”
Trump was referring to a recent trip that Song Tao — a senior diplomat, who heads the Communist Party's external affairs department — made to the country on behalf of Xi, in effort to reopen a dialogue channel with the regime and brief Pyongyang on China's recent party congress. The envoy, however, did not meet with Kim.
Trump recently returned from a 12-day trip to Asia where he heaped praise on Xi, prompting critics to worry the Chinese leader was manipulating him. The president has so far been reluctant to directly take on Xi, and his tweet Thursday did not mention him by name.