US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she used President Donald Trump's unpredictability to get the Chinese to back tougher international sanctions on North Korea.
"I would always use the unpredictability of President Trump to help me get the sanctions through," Haley told an audience at the University of Houston on Tuesday, recounting conversations with her Chinese counterparts.
"So I would say, 'We have to cut off the (North Korean) laborers', you know? 'We have to do this,'" she recalled. "And they'd say, 'Oh, no, no, we can't do that.'"
"And I would say, 'OK, but I can't promise you that President Trump won't use the military,'" said Haley. " 'I can't promise that there won't be a more forceful action, so why can't we do this and see if we can start to cut the revenue in North Korea?'"
"So it was through that that we did the three sanctions, and by the time I got China to agree to pass those sanctions and I'd get the other countries to agree, then I just told Russia, 'This is getting ready to happen,'" she added. "And we just kind of pushed them out of the way."
This explanation, which came during the question and answer portion of her appearance at the university, drew applause from the audience.
Haley's strategy resembles the so-called "madman theory" developed by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon in the 1970s, with then-President Nixon portraying himself as unstable to confuse US adversaries and gain the upper hand in Cold War negotiations.
In her prepared remarks at the university, Haley spoke about the need for Americans to come together and heal political divides, sometimes sounding more like a political candidate than a diplomat.
"Here at home our political opponents are not our enemies and they're not evil," the former South Carolina governor said. "They're just our opponents."
"Take it from me," she continued. "There's a big difference, and if we can't keep that difference straight, we're going to have a hard time conveying a message of hope to the world."
Haley acknowledged in the remarks that she and Trump "communicate differently," but said she has the President's support when she raises human rights issues at the United Nations.