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Column: China Is Our North Korea Solution

The Trickle Down

The Trickle Down is Salute Magazine’s  weekly column by Political Writer Amanda Godula.  The Trickle Down is a weekly look into what’s need-to-know, fresh takes on trends, and the inevitable controversies from the political arena. Let’s dig in and see what’s happening this week.

If you want to calm an unstable North Korea, look to China.

North Korea has not been considered a stable country in modern history.  Leader Kim Jong-un’s reign of a little over five years has shown the world how scary unstable can be.  The most recent incident: threatening to nuke Guam, a U.S. territory.

The threat on Guam is in response to President Donald Trump’s provocation of using nuclear weapons.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said at his New Jersey golf club.  His language more war-like and provocative than his presidential predecessors, eliminating the possibility of diplomacy.

Lawmakers, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), are pushing back on Trump’s words.

“The great leaders that I’ve seen, they don’t threaten until they’re ready to act,” McCain said, and encouraged conversations with China.

The diplomatic option is seemingly not part of Trump’s playbook, yet could be incredibly effective in taming North Korea.  The biggest influences are trade and access to goods.

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world.  North Korea’s GDP is just under $2,000, where the U.S. is just over $57,000.  The Council on Foreign Relations estimates China accounts for 90% of North Korea’s trade, with an increase of more than a third earlier this year.

Yet, China insists on keeping international peace and is willing to support tough sanctions on North Korea, according a statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“Given China’s traditional economic ties with North Korea, China more than anyone will pay a price for implementing the resolution…In order to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as always, enforce the full content of relevant resolutions in a comprehensive and strict manner.”

If China lessens trade with North Korea, it will impact the North Korea’s ability to access to food and clothing, among many others.  Why are we fighting with fire instead of diplomacy?

It’s seemingly two things: lack of diplomats and ambassadors, and un-diplomatic behavior.

In the Trump era, there are dozens of vacant ambassadorships and no appointments made.  Specific to China, one of the top diplomats in charge of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned because of Trump’s policies.

Not only is the U.S. lacking in representation, but Trump’s behavior is anti-diplomatic.  He’s been outspoken with China being currency manipulators, threatens trade war, and non-presidentially apostatized China’s reputation on Twitter with tweet, after tweet, after tweet, after tweet

The lack of representation in diplomacy is shaping our policy towards brutish showings of strength instead of leader in peaceful stability.  It seems we’re in the era of anti-Theodore Roosevelt – speak loudly, and threaten with a big stick.

With the sanctions back by China and American lawmakers speaking out against “fire and fury”, there may be hope for diplomacy, but it’s going to take some work.

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