The tension between North Korea and the United States is at an all-time high. We have heard threats from North Korea for quite some time. Now they are attempting to flex their muscles, launching several missiles over the past months.
It’s unclear how North Korea obtained the ability to create and manufacture Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), let alone their new miniature nuclear warheads, especially when they are unable to feed their own people. The fact is the country run by Kim Jong-un gets a majority of its money and resources from China. In fact, 75 percent of North Korea’s trade comes from China.
According to Fox News, China and Russia, who were both hesitant about getting tough on North Korea, have changed their tune. The United Nations recently slapped heavy sanctions on North Korea.
The sanctions will cut one-third of their $3 billion annual export profits, potentially crippling the country. The threat materialized when world leaders began to realize that North Korea has been regularly testing missiles, all the while moving toward the ability to carry out their threats.
Getting China to distance themselves from North Korea is the most important step right now. According to The Council on Foreign Relations, China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner, their main source of food and energy, and has helped Kim Jong-un get to where he is today.
China has shown support for North Korea since during the Korean War. Chinese troops came down on the Korean Penisula to aid the Koreans, but their support didn’t end there.
History demonstrates a constant flow of China supporting North Korean leaders, including Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-Il, and now Kim Jong-un.
China began to worry about North Korea around the time of their fifth missile test, according to BBC. China’s foreign ministry stated that Beijing was opposed to North Korea’s testing and urged them to cease, for worsening tensions in the rest of the world.
China seems to be resisting Jong-un and North Korea in some aspects, such as turning away their coal ships, according to Reuters. However, their relationship is far from severed. The Council on Foreign Relations noted that the trade between China and North Korea was actually up nearly 37.4 percent during the first quarter of 2017.
Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute states that “China is currently North Korea’s only economic backer of any importance.” In other words, despite them agreeing to the new sanctions, we will need to carefully watch their relationship.
The countries have had a relationship for almost 70 years at this point. Over the years, the trade between the two countries has increased significantly. In 2003, they were trading around 1.03 billion (USD), and that number shot up to 6.86 billion (USD) by 2014. A gain of nearly $6 billion likely played a role in North Korea obtaining enough money and resources to expand their weapon arsenal and power.
Despite the tension growing between North Korea in the rest of the world, their trading relationship with China has been better than ever over the past couple of years. It is unknown whose side China will pick if push comes to shove, but their relationship is something that President Trump should monitor closely.