In comments to the Wall Street Journal today, President Trump conceded that his previous assumptions about China’s “tremendous power” over North Korea turned out to not be true, and that China’s President Xi Jinping explained the situation to him during last week’s visit.
Trump now says he realizes it’s “not so easy” for China to just order North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, and that “it’s not what you would think.” In the lead up to Xi’s visit, Trump had repeatedly demanded China resolve the situation, threatening for the US to impose a solution if they didn’t.
This doesn’t explain President Trump’s comments after the Xi meeting, however, because as recently as yesterday he was still talking as though he believed China could “solve” North Korea for him, and even publicly offered them a “better trade deal” for doing so.
Now that he’s come to the realization that China can’t snap its fingers and expect North Korea to obey, at least in some statements, it’s not clear how that will impact US policy, as Trump is keen to “do something” about North Korea, and if he’s finally convinced China can’t, that might serve as a pretext for unilateral action.
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