Nice try from Beijing, but few will buy that the Kim regime is self-sustaining in North Korea. China responded to Donald Trump’s less-than-friendly tweets about their responsibilities in the wake of the second ICBM test launched by Pyongyang. Trump declared himself “disappointed,” and hinted that trade could be impacted if China doesn’t get serious about defanging Kim Jong-un:
China responded by arguing that they’re not their neighbor’s keeper:
China hit back on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted he was “very disappointed” in China following Pyongyang’s latest missile test, saying the problem did not arise in China and that all sides need to work for a solution.
China has become increasingly frustrated with American and Japanese criticism that it should do more to rein in Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s closest ally, but Beijing is angry with its continued nuclear and missile tests.
They may be a little more worried about Trump’s statement than this response indicates. Later, China added that trade issues should be kept separate from the Korean peninsula crisis:
“We believe that the North Korea nuclear issue and China-US trade are two issues that are in two completely different domains,” Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming told a press briefing, adding the issues “are not related, and should not be discussed together”.
“In general, China-US trade, including mutual investment, is mutually beneficial, and both China and the United States have gained great profits from bilateral trade and investment cooperations,” he said.
If that doesn’t work, perhaps Qian Keming might try something else, like, um … waving a red flag in front of a bull. Trump tied the two together because he understands that trade is the only leverage the US has with China. If we want Beijing to act effectively to curtail the threat from North Korea, bilateral trade is one of the more sensitive spots to press.
There are others, however, including further military expansion in South Korea. And suddenly the new, supposedly US-skeptical president Moon Jae-in wants to ramp up military cooperation with Trump:
The South Korean government wants greater firepower to counteract the growing threat from North Korea’s missiles, which have apparently led the new liberal government in Seoul to prioritize tougher action against Pyongyang over diplomatic engagement.
This represents a significant shift for Moon Jae-in, who was elected president just two months ago and will be welcomed in Washington, where the Trump administration has been growing frustrated with South Korea’s heel-dragging.
The catalyst for the sudden change was North Korea’s second launch in a month of an intercontinental ballistic missile technically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Japan has also begun rattling its saber, with an eye toward pressuring China into action:
Japan’s prime minister said he “fully agreed” with Donald Trump that China should apply more pressure to North Korea after the president tweeted he was “very disappointed” by Beijing’s response to the latest missile threat.
On Sunday, Shinzo Abe said the two leaders had an “in depth” conversation and agreed to take “concrete steps to do our utmost in ensuring the public’ safety” after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed in the sea off the coast of Japan — its second test this month. …
North Korea has “unilaterally escalated the situation,” he said. “The international community including China and Russia need to gravely accept such concrete facts and should apply more pressure. President Trump and I fully agreed that we need to take further action.”
He added: “Under the strong resolve of the U.S.-Japan alliance, in order to further improve our defense posture and our capabilities, we will take concrete steps to do our utmost in ensuring the public’ safety from the North Korean threat.”
Trump has the second option to press China’s buttons on militarization in Japan and South Korea. At some point, China might end up having to bring trade into the equation to play defense. The question will be whether Trump and US allies in the region can bring enough pressure to bear quickly enough for China to conduct an effective intervention.
At least they’re taking this seriously. Here’s Jill Stein getting too crazy even for this MSNBC anchor, blaming the US for its “demonization” of North Korea. Just think — we were only 63 million votes away from having Stein as our commander-in-chief.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 31, 2017