President Trump persuaded China to freeze all financial transactions with North Korea and ordered a new round of U.S. sanctions Thursday, closing out his first U.N. General Assembly with a major diplomatic victory in his efforts to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs short of war. In a carefully choreographed strategy deployed from the shadow of the United Nations headquarters in New York, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin called the head of China’s central bank very early Thursday to alert him that Mr. Trump was preparing an executive order to sanction any financial institutions doing business with North Korea. He asked for the cooperation of China, the main source of North Korea’s cash. Hours later, the People’s Bank of China announced it was directing all other banks in China to halt financial transactions with North Korea. Soon afterward, Mr. Trump signed an executive order in a meeting with the presidents of South Korea and Japan, expanding the Treasury Department’s ability to freeze the assets of banks or individuals doing business with Pyongyang. Mr. Trump praised China’s action, saying with uncharacteristic understatement that it was “somewhat unexpected.” “For much too long, North Korea has been allowed to abuse the international financial system to facilitate funding for its nuclear weapons and missile programs,” Mr. Trump said. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.” Mr. Trump’s tightening of the screws culminated his weeklong effort to marshal more international pressure on North Korea. The expanded and coordinated sanctions were announced two days after Mr. Trump alarmed many at the General Assembly by warning that the U.S. was prepared to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacked the U.S. or its allies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis, saying through a translator, “North Korea has continued to make provocations, and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.” White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Mr. Trump is taking the steps to try to resolve the crisis “short of war.” A senior administration official said the White House wants China and North Korea to understand that “this is different than anything in the last quarter century.” “We’re not negotiating for the right to negotiate, which is all the ‘strategic patience’ was all about,” the official said. “We’re going to try and have discussions so that we’ll reach a point where we agree to have negotiations. And we’ve made it clear that they need to step forward and be prepared to abandon the ballistic missile program and dismantle the nuclear weapons program. That’s where negotiations and discussions begin.” The official added, “We think China’s going to need to walk with them on that because of the outsized role that China plays in their economy, their long historic relationship, dating all the way back to the Korean War.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un described Mr. Trump early Friday in Asia as “mentally deranged,” according to Reuters. He said North Korea would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the U.S. in response to Mr. Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North. Some analysts said Mr. Trump’s thinly veiled threat of sanctions against Chinese banks, his lobbying of Chinese President Xi Jinping and even perhaps his threat of nuclear war appear to be working, at least for now. “U.S. pressure is having an effect,” said Bill Bishop, a China analyst and publisher of the Sinocism newsletter. “If the U.S. decides to ratchet up secondary sanctions another notch, expect sanctions and/or penalties against a large [People’s Republic of China] bank like China Merchants, but not one of the big four.” Michael C. Desch, director of the International Security Center at Notre Dame University, said China was likely responding to the threat of war as much as any other incentive. “My sense is that it is not sanctions and the U.N. but rather China’s fear that the North Korea situation is spiraling out of control that is leading Beijing to take these steps,” he said. “The last thing China wants is a war on its border that, at a minimum, could remove a key buffer between it and an American ally and at a maximum could result in a thermonuclear war right next door.” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the administration’s sanctions “are aimed squarely at North Korea’s despot but also remind China that it has a strong interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in Asia.”
Those are but a few of the things that China is worried about. They don’t want to see a reunified Korea….under southern rule. They don’t want an American ally that border’s China. They also don’t don’t want to deal with the thousands and thousands of North Korean refugees flooding their border if a military (even conventional) war breaks out. China like order; not chaos. That would be more chaos than they’d care to deal with. Those are just a few of the incentives they have to work with Trump. And it wasn’t that hard, really. It just took a little leadership from someone who isn’t afraid to upset the apple cart. Trump isn’t a natural politician. He is just someone who wants to see result; to see progress. And, he doesn’t take no for an answer. Nor does he care whose tender feelings he hurts. In other words, he’s a business-man, and a leader. Imagine that!
President Trump, at the start of his meeting Saturday in Germany with Chinese President Xi Jinping, called the Asian nation a “great trading partner” and said the increasing North Korea nuclear threat will eventually be resolved “one way or the other.” The much-anticipated meeting was one of several Trump and top administration officials had Saturday with world leaders at the close of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. But it was considered perhaps the most critical. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, which gives the country considerable influence over Pyongyang and its growing threat, which includes developing a nuclear warhead and launching long-range missiles to transport them. Trump told Xi that putting an end to North Korea’s nuclear missile testing “may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer that you’d like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other.” “Something has to be done,” the president also said. Xi also spoke briefly, but his comments in Chinese were not immediately translated and available. Saturday’s meeting also focused on trade between the two nations. Trump said “many things have happened” that have created trade imbalances between the United States and China but “we’re going to turn that around.” The president was flanked in the meeting room by about a dozen top administration officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and adviser Jared Kushner. The meeting followed a long-range missile test launch by North Korea on Tuesday, which a Pentagon spokesman said was a type not previously seen by U.S. analysts. Following the missile launch, Trump expressed frustration with China over its expanding trade with North Korea. Trump had expressed optimism after his first meeting with China’s president that the two would work together to curb North Korea’s nuclear pursuits. The president tweeted Wednesday, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” China has long resisted intensifying economic pressure on neighboring North Korea, in part out of fear of the instability that could mount on its doorstep, including the possibility of millions of North Koreans fleeing into China. China has also been concerned that a reunited, democratic Korea — dominated by South Korea — would put a U.S. ally, and possibly U.S. forces, on its border. Tillerson on Tuesday vowed “stronger measures” to hold North Korea accountable. “Global action is required to stop a global threat,” he said. Tillerson also said any country helping North Korea militarily or economically, taking in its guest workers or falling short on Security Council resolutions “is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.” However, his statement did not specifically mention China.
..of course not. That would not be well received by China. But, we’re quickly approaching the point at which we really shouldn’t care whether we cause Xi some embarrassment. This whole catering to the Asian saving face cultural nonsense is…well..nonsense. We’ve been playing footsie with them for DECADES now. Clearly it’s not working. Their trade with the DPRK is up 40% in the last quarter, for crying out loud! That’s hardly putting pressure on that regime. If China won’t help us with N. Korea, then we need to take serious and substantive action, regardless. If N. Korea really does have an ICBM that can reach Alaska, then mere “economic sanctions” and so on is hardly sufficient. It’s time to end this decades-long chess game, and remove the Kim dynasty once and for all.