Accepting a Nuclear North Korea to Contain China

Accepting a Nuclear North Korea to Contain China, by Harry Kazianis.

It would seem that Team Trump has decided to revert to what I would argue was their original intention: making China their number one foreign policy priority.

From policy documents that all but label Beijing an enemy, to aggressive negotiations that have turned sour over trade, to pushing through Congress a large increase in military spending that is geared towards negating China’s growing military might, this administration clearly has its sights on winning what has become the great power competition of the 21st century.

But all that comes at a price — as in China torpedoing Trump’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign towards North Korea. With 90 percent or more of North Korea’s external trade passing through China in one way or another, Beijing will attempt to use Pyongyang as a bargaining chip — especially on matters of trade and tariffs. Clearly, there is no hope of a new “maximum pressure” campaign if China won’t enforce it — and they won’t if they know America’s goal is their own containment. There even seems to be evidence that China has already decided to end pressure on North Korea, a clear signal that Trump will pay a price for his stance. …

My advice to Trump: if you want a successful Asia policy, there is one threat above all others that needs your attention—and that is China. Everything else, even North Korea’s potential 65 nuclear weapons, pales in comparison. And if the price of a successfully contained China with the international order still intact is a nuclear North Korea, as much as it breaks my heart to say this, so be it.

hat-tip Stephen Neil