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Opinion Editorial
April 3, 2017

Brow-beating China about North Korea is a risky business – Donald Trump should tread carefully

John Hemmings

This article originally appeared in The Telegraph

Ahead of his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Donald Trump has suggested that the US will take unilateral action to tackle the North Korean nuclear threat if the Chinese don’t step up. As political commentators react to the incautious nature of the threats, two things are rapidly becoming apparent: first, that the possibility of North Korea developing a nuclear-strike capability on the continental United States is rapidly changing the strategic calculus inside Washington; and second, President Trump has decided to approach North Korea as a “China problem”, assuming that he might compel China into providing a solution.

For all the comments made about keeping military options “on the table”, the fact is that American presidents have little chance in changing the status quo on the Peninsula by force. Certainly, Washington does have a strong military in the region, capable allies nearby, and a nuclear deterrence honed during the Cold War, but North Korea has its own strong cards, which even the game immensely.

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John Hemmings

About John Hemmings

Dr. John Hemmings is the founding Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His research focuses on East Asia, Japan, Korea, China, India, and their relations with the West

Full profile  |  See all of John Hemmings's work