Chinese dead end of Trump

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

American sanctions against China are unlikely to help pacify DPRK
16:01, 5 July 2017

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Recently, Trump’s Presidential Administration has imposed sanctions against the Chinese bank Dandong, the trading company Dalian Global Unity Shipping, and two Chinese citizens. These institutions are denied access to the American financial system, as they assisted North Korea in the implementation of illegal financial transactions, money laundering and had commercial ties with it. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is convinced that sanctions are directed not specifically against China, but against individuals involved in relations with DPRK. In addition, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China, the United States approved the supply of radars, missiles and torpedoes for $ 1.4 billion to Taiwan Island. Beijing is interested in regaining control of this island, which has separated and exists as a partially recognized state after the establishment of the communist Regime in the territory of mainland China in 1949.

Related: U.S. patience for North Korea over, Trump says

Objectives of anti-China sanctions

Republican team expects that the sanctions will have a sobering effect on China in order to encourage Chinese banks and firms to stop cooperating with the North Korean side. The deterioration of relations due to North Korea is not beneficial for both countries. Chinese and American economies are interrelated. China is the main creditor of the United States. According to the Congress, bilateral trade turnover between the two countries increased from 2 billion to 579 billion dollars over the past 37 years. By their actions, the US is made to understand that if China does not independently interdict the cooperation of certain Chinese firms and banks with the DPRK, Washington will do it. Other Chinese institutions will be blacklisted too. The Pentagon will continue to arm Taiwan, whose leadership is not eager to return to China.

Anti-Chinese sanctions are the result of the impasse, in which the United States found itself in the process of solving the North Korean problem. Sanctions against the DPRK, which Donald Trump extended for another year, do not work. Pyongyang continues to develop ballistic missiles. Recently, an engine test was conducted for an intercontinental ballistic missile. The solution of the North Korean problem by applying missile and bomb strikes against the facilities involved in the development and testing of nuclear weapons rests on South Korea's position. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is opposed to tightening pressure on the DPRK. Seoul fears that as a retaliation action, North Korean military will destroy South Korean cities from long-range artillery.

Related: North Korea launches ballistic missile in Japan’s direction

To take unilateral actions against the DPRK, ignoring the position of South Korea, Donald Trump is not interested. Now is not the best time for the deterioration of US-South Korean relations. During a recent meeting with Moon Jae-in, Donald Trump agreed to increase supplies of liquefied gas to South Korea and new investments in the American economy. Trump decided to go on a more thorny path and imposed sanctions against North Korea's partners in China. The survival of the population of North Korea depends on trade and economic relations with China. North Koreans depend on the supply of food and energy from China. The trade turnover between China and the DPRK in 2014 amounted to 6.8 billion dollars - 70% of the total trade turnover of Pyongyang.

Related: North Korea comments on accusations of torture against American student

Doubtful initiative

American leadership should not underestimate the Chinese colleagues. The United States already imposed sanctions against China in 1989 shortly after the dispersal of the demonstration of supporters of the country's democratization in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Then the Administration of President George HW Bush froze the activities of the funds, which contributed to the intensification of bilateral trade between the US and China. The United States has imposed sanctions under the pretext of violation of human rights by the Chinese leadership. Sanctions were abolished in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War. They did not bring any special effect. China has not become a more democratic state. The Communist Party still has a monopoly position in the political system and in society. The country is practicing the death penalty. China is developing on its wave, emphasizing the deepening of free market relations while preserving the socialist system. North Korea is a kind of “thorn” for China, but it is impossible to wrest it for a number of reasons.

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It is impossible to completely block the oxygen for North Korea from China. The Chinese leadership has already taken restrictive measures against DPRK. In February 2017, China postponed the purchase of North Korean coal until the end of the year. The other day Chinese company China National Petroleum Corp. postponed supplies to North Korea of gasoline and diesel fuel. However, both parties still continue to trade in the black market. Smuggling is rampant in the border areas of China and North Korea. From North Korea, barges loaded with coal are illegally transported to China. North Korean seafood is popular among the Chinese,  especially mollusks, which are also imported to China.

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For some Chinese, North Korea is an ideological symbol. The Communist Party cannot completely break off ties with DPRK, as its actions will not be understood by the old-school communists, for whom the support of the North Koreans is a manifestation of political solidarity. The Chinese army changed the course of the Korean War (1950-53) in favor of the North Korean Communists, pushing the US forces in 38 parallel (the state border of South and North Korea). The leader of the communist revolution in China Mao Zedong supported the development of North Korean statehood. DPRK owes its existence to China, which for decades has been the guarantor of the security of the communist regime.

Chinese Communists see DPRK as a buffer zone that protects China from US military bases in South Korea and Japan, in the existence of which they see a threat to their security. China does not support the deployment of US anti-missile weapons in South Korea.

Related: DPRK test-fires new anti-aircraft weapon

Countermeasures of China

It is not ruled out that, in addition to the spoiled relations with China, new US sanctions will not bring anything. Relations between the US and China were complex before entering sanctions. Both countries claim to dominate the Asia-Pacific region (APR). China has long ceased to be the least developed country and is interested in seeing everyone in APR as its interests. Sanctions and arms deliveries to Taiwan can be interpreted by Chinese officials and the military as an unfriendly act by the US.

In response, the Chinese can continue to strengthen their own navy as a counterweight to the US Pacific Fleet. According to The National Interest, China plans to build 351 warships by 2020. It will continue to build military facilities in the South China Sea in areas of trade shipping routes. Recently, satellite images have been published that show that China has built new storage facilities for missiles, radar and transport infrastructure on three islands from the Spratly archipelago, which is a subject of dispute of  ASEAN countries.

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The current sanctions can harm the prospects for relations between the US and China. More recently, in April, Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed on cooperation on the North Korean problem. China might be a pain in the neck of the United States, it might begin a situational rapprochement with the Russian Federation: intensify negotiations on the implementation of the "Siberia Power" gas pipeline or cooperation in the military-political sphere. The American political elite must understand that only North Korea might force Kim Jong-un to abandon the nuclear missile program, even if it requires the use of military force. At least sanctions against China to force North Korea are not the best solution to the problem.

Related: DPRK confirms ballistic missile launch

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