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  Asia-Pacific
Trump Offers China Economic Inducements If Beijing Puts Pressure on North Korea
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
Female soldiers of North Korea marching on Kim Il-Sung square in its capital city of Pyongyang.

It appears that President Donald Trump is offering economic inducements for China to help in the “North Korea question.” However, this seems a far cry from Trump who promised to tackle nations who are deemed to be manipulating trade with America. In other words, in a matter of days, the new Trump administration is focused increasingly on foreign policy objectives.

Despite economic incentives, China is focused on a “dual track” approach related to pressurising North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear activities. At the same time, China will request America and South Korea to suspend major military drills that infuriate North Korea.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of China said, “China has been paying close attention to the development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Under the current circumstances, we think all parties should show restraint and not take action that may intensify regional tensions.”

However, for Trump, it appears that he is linking favourable economic trade policies with China if this nation pressurises North Korea. Trump on social media said, “I explained to the president of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”

Not surprisingly, this approach by Trump brought scorn on both sides of the political spectrum. After all, Trump prior to being elected had told “the abandoned American masses” that he would put America first. This applies to fair trade agreements and tackling nations like China, Japan, and Mexico, who Trump claimed were abusing trade and manipulating currencies (China and Japan).

Charles Schumer, a Democrat Senator, who was open to Trump and his objectives of tackling trade abuses by China isn’t impressed by the latest about-turn. Hence, Schumer expressed the importance for Trump to remain loyal to his campaign pledges in tackling the government of China over trade and currency manipulation.

Schumer expressed to media reports, “I think what he’s saying is, if they are tough on North Korea, I’ll go easier on trade… Ask the American people if they like that deal. They won’t.”

Trump also notified China that, “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great… If not, we will solve the problem without them!”

However, it is essential that China, Japan, and South Korea reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and this equally applies to hawks in the Trump administration and North Korea’s nuclear and missile expansion. In truth, it isn’t up to America to act alone on the Korean Peninsula because any retaliation by North Korea will most likely be aimed at the people of South Korea and Japan respectively.

Recent events by the Trump administration in Syria, upping the ante towards the Russian Federation, and growing hawkishness over North Korea bodes ill for Trump because he wasn’t elected on these grounds. Trump promised a non-interventionist approach and to help American workers against unfair international trade agreements.

Now, suddenly, interventionism is growing in his administration. Equally alarming, Trump is hinting that he will renege on being strict on China if they help America in its foreign policy objective towards North Korea. Therefore, important economic issues are becoming secondary because Trump is now increasingly focused on taking an interventionist approach.

The above story was written by Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker.



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. His website is at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com

 

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