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Story highlights

The US hopes China -- North Korea's largest trading partner -- can apply pressure to Pyongyang

Trump's message came hours after a North Korean ballistic missile test failed

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump suggested Sunday that his about-face on labeling China a currency manipulator was a strategic move meant to entice the country’s cooperation on North Korea.

Trump, who is spending the Easter weekend at his Florida estate, wrote on Twitter, “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?”

“We will see what happens!” Trump wrote, raising the possibility his decision could be reversed.

His message came hours after a North Korean ballistic missile test failed. The US and its Asian allies had been on heightened alert for provocative moves from the rogue state during an important holiday on Saturday.

The declaration also came days after Trump – in a turnabout from his campaign stance – declared in an interview that his administration would not label China a currency manipulator, which could have triggered investigations.

“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal, explaining Beijing had not manipulated the yuan for months.

Why Trump won’t be branding China a currency cheater

Asked during a news conference Wednesday whether he thought he could negotiate a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping over his nation’s currency practices, Trump said, “We’re going to see, we’re going to see about that.”

Later in the week, the US Treasury Department did not label China a currency manipulator in its semi-annual report on global currency practices.

Trump has projected a transactional attitude toward China, saying in interviews and remarks that he planned to use trade as a negotiating tool for Xi’s cooperation on North Korea.

The US hopes China – North Korea’s largest trading partner – can apply pressure to Pyongyang to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

The Trump administration has touted some successes on that front in the past week, including the suspension of coal shipments from North Korea to China. Overall imports from North Korea to China, however, have increased.