North Korea, according to Donald Trump, could best be controlled by China. Trump pointed out that China has the capacity to completely starve out North Korea. In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Trump confidently stated that we merely needed to put some pressure on China to handle the problem.
“China should solve that problem and we should put pressure on China to solve that problem. If they don’t solve that problem we should be very tough on them on trade… meaning, start charging them for tax or start cutting them off. You’d have China collapse in about two minutes.”
Checking Trump’s Logic.
It is true that North Korea is almost entirely dependent on China as a trading partner. Due to sanctions, North Korea has few options when it comes to open trade. China is the most likely country to trade with North Korea. We know, however, that North Korea suffered severe economic and logistic problems in the wake of China’s 2013 actions to back and cooperate with sanctions against them, following a previous nuclear test. The previous sanctions did, in fact, nearly starve out North Korea. Could the same trick work again if the U.S. simply got China to cooperate?
China’s Response to North Korean Atomic Tests.
Shannon Tiezzi, who writes for The Diplomat, reported that China is angry at North Korea about the test. They are very concerned about nuclear fallout and repercussions the detonations would have on their already polluted air and water. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, released a statement.
“China is steadfast in its position that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized and nuclear proliferation should be prevented to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia… We strongly urge the DPRK to honor its commitment to denuclearization, and to cease any action that may deteriorate the situation.”
All the same, the U.S. knows that China has at least some loyalty to North Korea. While they are upset by the potential environmental hazards of nuclear testing, they will favor diplomacy over sanctions. They are very unlikely to use any sort of force against their neighbor. Historically, China has rarely been the aggressor in war, preferring a defensive strategy to any sort of attack.
Is Donald Trump Underestimating North Korea?
The Donald might also be underestimating the resolve and resourcefulness of North Korea, and especially the Korean people. While sanctions can be devastating to the economy and the people of a country, over time they can make a country more self-reliant and resourceful. Countries learn to produce more of what they need, become less reliant on foreign goods, and also to find black markets. North Korea could conceivably survive with sanctions, only growing stronger and more independent. Isolationism can work for a country with resources and knowledge.
China does make a lot of money from U.S. corporations, but it also costs them in environmental concerns. China has always had a pollution problem, due to their use of dirty coal, but new types of air pollution have worsened the problem, clouding their air with thick foglike smoke. In some cities, just breathing can be very hazardous to one’s health. Also, American consumerism is on the downturn, due to U.S. economic woes. People are not buying as much because of the long-term recession impacting the poor and middle class. These are the people who tend to buy cheaper Chinese goods.
Still, it might be possible that China will exert some control over North Korea, but was it really a diplomatic thing to say on national television? Diplomacy has always been conducted behind closed doors, with each party having their own agenda. Stating not only the agenda, but the threats in public is not the way things are normally done. Trump’s assumptions may be correct, but they could be somewhat offensive to both China and North Korea.
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