President Trump has been slamming China for what he perceives as a lack of cooperation, but the Asian superpower has quietly been working its own economic angle with North Korea rather than joining Trump in all of his “fire and fury” bluster. Now, North Korea is going to have to do without Chinese trade, as China has refused to accept key imports in line with the United Nations’ latest sanctions.
Starting September 5th, China will no longer import North Korean coal, iron, lead, and fish. That should have made the White House happy, as China is one of the only countries that will trade with North Korea (above board, that is). China’s Xi Jinping urged President Trump to try further diplomacy after a recent exchange of harsh words with Kim Jong-un that resulted in threats against Guam, and now he’s going along with the U.N. sanctions that Trump lobbied for him to support.
Unfortunately, despite China’s attempts to soothe the two leaders and keep the peace, all while placating the United States on the sanctions deal, Trump still has plenty of ire with Xi Jinping. The New York Times reports that he is going to follow through on calling for an investigation into whether China violated intellectual property agreements. In other words, Trump is threatening China with a trade war if it doesn’t in turn wage war on North Korea through trade channels. It looks like nothing will really get Beijing back on Trump’s good side unless it also takes up Trump’s hardline approach. Not even blocking a billion dollar’s worth of trade with North Korea.
The two leaders did agree on a few points announced by the White House Saturday morning, noting, “President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior. The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But until they agree on how best to do that, it seems this awkward three-way stalemate will continue.