After yesterday’s news of North Korea’s latest nuclear test, President Trump upped the ante on his tough guy routine, threatening to cut off trade with any country that does business with the pugnacious regime.
Now North Korea’s largest trading partner, China, has decided to push back against the president’s latest ultimatum. At a press briefing, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said:
“What is definitely unacceptable to us is that on the one hand we work so hard to peacefully resolve this issue and on the other hand our interests are subject to sanctions and jeopardized. This is unfair.”
With North Korea allegedly now capable of producing a more advanced nuclear weapon, thought to be a hydrogen bomb, and claiming the capability to reach US territory with new intercontinental ballistic missiles, the leverage that their young hereditary ruler, Kim Jong Un, has in the situation has created a new international crisis.
Trump tweeted incessantly and belligerently about North Korea yesterday, essentially rejecting diplomatic solutions and threatening military action. In addition to telling the recently elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who ran on a platform of seeking a peaceful dialogue with their hostile neighbor, that “appeasement with North Korea will not work”, Trump convened a meeting of his top military aides yesterday to discuss a response to the latest nuclear tests.
The crisis has strained relations with one of the US’s strongest allies in the region, especially since Trump is simultaneously threatening to withdraw from the free trade accord with SOuth Korea negotiated under President Bush, a move that many of his closest national security and economic advisors are reportedly opposing vigorously.
With the South Korean capital city of Seoul a mere 35 miles from the border with the North, any military option that Trump may want to employ could result in massive death and destruction there. both South Korea and China, as well as Russia which also shares a border with the North, have called for diplomatic solutions, including trade sanctions, as the best way to pressure Kim Jung Un to drop his bellicose posture and abandon nuclear weapons. All of the North’s neighbors, however, are fearful of what could happen if the sanctions cause a collapse of the local economy. They worry about how the unpredictable dictator would react when forced into a corner and about the flood of refugees who could come fleeing over the borders into their countries in the event of war.
All of the North’s neighbors, however, are fearful of what could happen if the sanctions cause a collapse of the local economy there. They worry about how the unpredictable dictator would react when forced into a corner and about the flood of refugees who could come fleeing over the borders into their countries in the event of war, creating a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions.
The Chinese government is also quite aware that the volume of business that the US does with China would mean that any trade boycott that the president could initiate would have a significant impact on the US economy as well as their own. The sudden disappearance of iPhones from US stores if the supply of components from China were to be cut off would be sure to garner a severe negative reaction from US consumers who have grown more accustomed to the realities of globalization than they realize.
China’s latest pushback means that Trump can’t count on the support of the most crucial players in this deadly game of chicken. The question remains: who will blink first?
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.