US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley threatened to see all US trade with China severed over the nation’s “continued business dealings” with North Korea, presenting such trade as a violation of UN sanctions, and accusing China of “encouraging trade” with Pyongyang.
This follows a consistent trend in the Trump Administration of demanding that China “solve” North Korea for them, praising Chinese cooperation, then quickly blaming China the moment the US policy doesn’t go according to plan.
Haley presented North Korea’s ICBM test as a “military escalation,” and reiterated that the US is prepared to respond militarily, but would prefer to use its massive power as a trading partner to do so. Since the US doesn’t trade with North Korea, that appears to just mean empty threats to China.
China exported over $500 billion in goods to the US in 2016, and cutting off what is literally their largest trading partner on the planet would have disastrous economic consequences for both the US and China. Even if China capitulates to the US and severs trade with North Korea, all that accomplishes is eliminating what little sway China still has with the North Korean government.
US officials appear increasingly eager to hype up the possibility of attacking North Korea, and suggesting that it could happen in extremely short order. All indications are that the administration intends to either get its way through sheer repetition of demands, or will just start picking fights randomly hoping that somehow gets things done.