04/17/2017

It Seems Trump Got China To Crack Down On North Korea

John Pomfret, New York Post

Something interesting is happening in China, and perhaps President Trump deserves some credit.

For the first time, the Chinese government appears to have laid down a bottom line with North Korea and is threatening Pyongyang with a response of “unprecedented ferocity” if the government of Kim Jong-un goes ahead with a test of either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear device.

In an editorial in the semi-official Global Times on April 12, Pyongyang was put on notice that it must rein in its nuclear ambitions, or else China’s oil shipments to North Korea could be “severely limited.” It is extraordinary for China to make this kind of threat.

For more than a decade, as part of its strategy to prop up one of its only allies, China refused to allow the UN Security Council to even consider cutting oil shipments to the North. Beijing’s calculus was that the maintenance of the North Korean regime took precedence over everything. Now Beijing seems to be reconsidering its position.

Perhaps even more significantly, on April 5, the Global Times, which is owned by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, laid out what it called China’s “bottom line” on the increasingly tense situation on the Korean Peninsula.

First, the editorial said “the safety and stability” of China’s northeast must be assured. To that end, the editorial continued, no North Korean nuclear fallout can be allowed to “contaminate” the region.

Second, North Korea cannot be allowed to “descend into the kind of turbulence that generates a huge outpouring of refugees,” the editorial said, adding that China will also not allow “a hostile government” in Pyongyang.

It concluded by vowing that Beijing would not tolerate a US military push toward the Yalu River.

China has never before listed in such clear, albeit semi-official, terms what it wants for the Korean Peninsula. It’s never before hinted that it would oppose the formation of a government hostile to Beijing’s interests next door. So how is this related to Trump?

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