Foreign Policy

China Extends NoKo Nuke Olive Branch

Trump's tariff announcement may have more to do with North Korea's sudden change of heart than sanctions.

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 9, 2018

President Donald Trump on Thursday accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, an invitation that was relayed to the U.S. by South Korean officials who had recently met with the North. It’s important to note here that thus far the North Korean regime has not publicly or officially requested a meeting with Trump. That said, there is no reason to doubt Kim’s desire to have a face-to-face meeting with the president, as it would serve to validate his leadership status on the world scene. On the possibility of a diplomatic solution, Trump struck a positive yet realistic note, tweeting, “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”

There has been quite a bit of Leftmedia consternation over the implications of Trump’s acceptance. Many have questioned if Trump fully appreciates the dangers. U.S. policy has long resisted offering any validation to the rogue regime — validation it could then leverage geopolitically. As has been repeatedly noted by the MSM, this face-to-face meeting would be a first for a sitting U.S. president.

However, what has been missed by much of the MSM coverage is the region’s biggest player, China. The Kim regime’s long-running control of North Korea could not have existed without significant support from the communists in Beijing. In fact, North Korea is a puppet of the Chinese.

It is interesting to note that the day Trump announced his plan for tariffs on steel, North Korean officials reached out to officials in the South requesting a meeting. Undoubtedly, Kim has felt the sting of Trump’s economic sanctions, but more than Kim, it is the Chinese who have the most to lose economically, especially if war were to break out on the Korean peninsula. Trump’s announcement of a tariff on Chinese steel and aluminum may have finally been the straw that broke the camel’s back. If China is willing to truly end the nuclear threat posed by its North Korean puppet, then maybe it can get concessions from Trump on tariffs.

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is China’s largest single trade partner and second largest regional partner behind only the European Union, accounting for over $521 billion in trade annually. Meanwhile, the North Korean economy is almost entirely dependent on China, which accounts for over 90% of its imports and over 85% of its exports. Quite literally, China is North Korea’s lifeline. Thus, as we have noted previously, China is the key to effectively dealing with North Korea.

Trump has indicated that he has no plans to withdraw any sanctions until there are actual results, and talks don’t equate to results. Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee argued for a cautious approach, saying, “We can pursue more diplomacy as we keep applying pressure ounce by ounce.” He added, “Remember, North Korean regimes have repeatedly used talks and empty promises to extract concessions and buy time. North Korea uses this to advance its nuclear and missile programs. We’ve got to break this cycle.”

Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, said, “North Korea is putting virtually all topics of concern on the table. Trump now has the opportunity to achieve what no president has been able to achieve in seven decades of U.S.-North Korea relations: make real strides towards lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Is it North Korea or is it China that is putting denuclearization on the table? Either way, it is sincerely hoped that a nuclear North Korea comes to an end.

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