China Threatens to Back Unprecedented Sanctions on North Korea

In a rare move, the Chinese government is openly warning its ally North Korea to halt its testing of nuclear bombs and missiles or face retaliation from the United States under the command of President Donald Trump.

An article in China’s state-run People’s Daily Newspaper read, “Not only [is] Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises.”

Moreover, Beijing is even using its propaganda machines to voice support for unprecedented opposition to North Korea in response to any aggression.

A piece in the Global Times read, “If the North makes another provocative move this month, the Chinese society will be willing to see the [UN Security Council] adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North.”

The news comes after President Trump’s historic meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and a phone call they exchanged on Wednesday. State broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying, “China insists on realizing the de-nuclearization of the peninsula, insists on maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving the problem through peaceful means.”

But tensions are brewing.

This Saturday marks what would be the 105 birth date of Kim Il sung, the grandfather to North Korea’s current ruler King Jong Un, and first in line in a list of erratic and unstable “Dear Leaders.”

And in a sight that must be as common for North Koreans as Coca-Cola ads are for Americans, North Korean media shows Kim has vowed a nuclear strike against the U.S. in respone to any sign of aggression. Meanwhile, a U.S. NAVY carrier and a group of destroyers and cruisers steamed toward the Korean Peninsula. Japan later announced it would join the party led by USS Carl Vinson.

But, how far can Beijing go in cajoling its unhinged neighbor to play nice?

Some analysts argue China doesn’t have the leverage on North Korea Americans seem to believe it has, and others say she won’t use it if it does.

Ruan Zongze, a U.S. relations expert at the China Institute of International Studies run by the foreign ministry says: “There’s a view that China possesses the key to solving the peninsula problem, or that China has the faucet and that all China has to do is shut it off and the peninsula issue is solved. In fact, I think the outside exaggerates the sort of role China can play. China isn’t really as influential as all that.”

Tom Holland, who has written on Chinese affairs for 20 years, argued in a recent editorial that China doesn’t stand much to gain from going against business as usual with North Korea. Beijing remains Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner accounting for 90 percent of its foreign trade.

“If Beijing were to rigorously sever these ties, it would very likely bring the North Korean economy – and Kim’s regime – to its knees. But China’s leaders have no appetite for such a drastic course of action.”

Nonetheless, President Trump has shown the world he wants to take a new approach to North Korea, and he’s not afraid to take drastic actions– then again, neither is North Korea.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.