The Korean Peninsula has been a focus point for the world in recent days. Tensions in the region seem to be going through the roof especially after it emerged that North Korea and the US might just be on the verge of a full-blown war. The communist nation has, however, warned of “nuclear thunderbolts” in case of any preemptive strikes by the US. North Korea has also slammed China for cooperating with the West. North Korea is expected to carry out a nuclear test this Saturday in commemorating the birthday of the nation founder Kim II Sung.
However, this should not come as a surprise. Provocative nuclear and missile tests have become very common from North Korea. There is no doubt that China’s willingness to cooperate with the US in dealing with Kim Jong-un has offered a new ray of hope in preventing tensions in the region from escalating into a crisis. NK News reported that the US in cooperation with “somebody” was planning to collapse the country’s system. The state-run media also went on to warn that such an attempt was naïve, foolish, and delusional.
The reference “somebody” has been interpreted as a swipe towards China. The Asian economic giant recently refused to accept coal exports from the Hermit Kingdom. This is expected to affect North Korea’s economy. China is the biggest trade partner with North Korea. The Chinese have also remained strong political supporters of the country. However, after a meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping, it appears as if the tide might just be starting to turn. Trump is said to have threatened China with trade retaliation if they failed to cooperate in the denuclearization of North Korea.
At the moment, it seems that the Chinese are ready and willing to act. Despite growing military buildup in the Korean peninsula and ongoing fears that the US and North Korea are on the verge of war, Gui Rui, director at the Jilin University’s Institute of North East Asian Studies said that an all-out war between the US and North Korea was extremely unlikely. Rui told the Associated Press that if the North was to proceed with the nuclear tests as planned, the only risk they will be facing would be extreme condemnation from China.
The last thing Kim Jong-un needs is a fallout with China. The Chinese government has provided the only lifeline for the regime in North Korea to survive and a fallout between Pyongyang and Beijing will signal the beginning of the end for Kim. Trump told reporters after meeting Xi that he was very impressed by the Chinese President saying that “He means well and he is ready to help.” However, fingers still remain crossed to see whether China will follow up on this. It will also be interesting to see the extent of China’s role in denuclearizing North Korea. But there is no doubt that it’s no longer business as usual and greater cooperation between the US and China could solve the North Korean problem once and for all.