President Trump believes the road to disarming North Korea runs through China, its biggest and most powerful ally. The problem is that Beijing doesn't seem willing to do much of anything to rein Pyongyang in.
Trump is right that China is indispensable to North Korea's economy and serves as its biggest shield against international efforts to end its nuclear program. Unless Trump wants to
Tensions have been rising between the US and North Korea at an astonishing clip. In the past week, North Korea has held a massive military parade, attempted (unsuccessfully) to fire off yet another ballistic missile,
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Trump has been a bit vague on exactly what he wants China to do, but we have a sense of the broad ideas. He wants it to take the gloves off and move beyond the relatively modest pressure tactics it's applied so far to the dictatorship, many of which have focused on causing discomfort to elites, such as banning the flow of luxury goods into the country. That would mean dramatically increasing pressure on the nation's economy as a whole through measures like shrinking trade or cutting off oil shipments.
Analysts say the world has not hit North Korea with the kinds of harsh sanctions that had been slapped on Iran in the past because of its own nuclear program. Some of them believe that if Washington and its allies ratchet the pressure high enough, Pyongyang will be forced to choose between its weapons program and economic survival — and ultimately choose the latter in a bid for self-preservation.
But convincing China to get on board with aggressive economic policies is a toweringly tall order. That's because Beijing has a vested interest in a stable North Korea — and will drag its heels as much as it can on measures that could destabilize the country. That's something that was plainly apparent during a meeting at the Chinese Embassy on