President-elect Donald Trump has spoken repeatedly of the need to “do more” about North Korea, and analysts are saying this will likely run into a major obstacle, as one of his other major goals has been to start a trade war with China.
The problem is US officials say anything they “do” to North Korea as heavily dependent on China, one of the few nations with any real influence over the isolated nation, and China is unlikely to be too eager to do anything to back US efforts if they are in the middle of a trade war.
North Korea’s actual “danger” is somewhat disputed, as despite some underground nuclear tests it’s not wholly clear how close they are to having a deliverable weapon. While the US policy toward North Korea has been to continue increasing sanctions to punish them, while demanding that they unconditionally abandon their nuclear program.
While China isn’t happy with North Korea’s nuclear program, or happy with them in general, their goal is largely to prevent a wholesale collapse of the North Korean government, out of concerns that it would create a massive influx of refugees into China.
This means getting China to “do more” in the US perspective is difficult, but the chances of any cooperation shrink even more dramatically if US-China relations begin to seriously worsen.