APB: The U.S.-China-North Korea Tangle | Mel Gurtov

It’s not too early to sound alarm bells about the downward turn in U.S.-China relations. Trump’s evident frustration with China over its presumed failure to rein in North Korea has already led to a number of steps that have rankled Beijing.

These include a State Department report on human trafficking that includes sharp criticism of China’s denial of human rights; statements from the administration about China’s unfair trade practices; a major U.S. arms sale to Taiwan; and a U.S. frigate’s sail-by in South China Sea waters close to Chinese-claimed territory.

A phone call on July 3 from Trump to Xi Jinping comforted the Chinese leader on one point: Trump’s pledge to continue to honor the “One China” principle and prior U.S.-China understandings regarding Taiwan.

But even on that point, and no doubt with the $1.4 billion arms sale in mind, Xi reportedly said he “hopes the U.S. will properly handle the Taiwan-related issues in accordance with the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués.”

Xi also said that while U.S.-China relations had “achieved important results” since his meeting with Trump at Mar-a-lago, “at the same time, the two countries’ relations had been influenced by some negative factors.”

On the face of it, the Xi-Trump conversation seems like a positive exchange.

But the Chinese account does not mention that Trump, according to a New York Times report today, also warned China that the U.S. may have to take unilateral steps in dealing with North Korea, which has just tested another long-range ballistic (nuclear-weapons-capable) missile.

That warning will only accomplish two things: It will tell China that the brief honeymoon in U.S.-China cooperation is over, and will show once again that Washington has failed to learn the lesson of years past that China cannot, and will not, pressure Kim Jong-un to cease nuclear and missile tests and denuclearize.

Trump has said that Obama’s North Korea policy of “strategic patience” is dead. But Trump’s threat of military action against the North is worse. The Chinese have put forward a “freeze-for-freeze” proposal — a halt to U.S. military exercises on the Korean peninsula in exchange for a halt to North Korean weapons tests — that makes far more sense.

Only direct U.S.-North Korea dialogue holds any prospect of reducing the risk of an unprecedented calamitous war.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

More in Opinion

Trump Zombies | Raging Moderate

The followers of Donald Trump are many things. Loyal, rabid, focused, committed,… Continue reading

Should We Lower The Voting Age To 16? | Tyrades!

According to NBC News, the majority of the Washington, D.C. council as… Continue reading

Today’s cartoon for Tuesday, April 24

Today’s cartoon is by RJ Matson, Roll Call.… Continue reading

Missouri’s Republican Sex Scandal is Way Better Than Trump’s | Dick Polman

Need a break from Trump? Come with me to Missouri. Where else… Continue reading

The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump | Steve Klinger

In the summer of 2016 I wrote a song titled “Not This… Continue reading

No really, how bad does it have to get? | Tom H. Hastings

James Comey was fired by Trump, of course, because he was looking… Continue reading

No, I Don’t Hate Conservatives. I Disagree With Them | John L. Micek

Not too long ago, an anonymous commenter on one of my columns… Continue reading

Money to spend | The Petri Dish

OLYMPIA — The state will expend a chunk of taxpayer dollars in… Continue reading

Today’s cartoon for Monday, April 23

Today’s cartoon is by Christopher Weyant, The Boston Globe.… Continue reading

Most Read