The incoming US administration of Donald Trump should impose powerful secondary sanctions on Chinese firms and wage a trade war with China in order to force Beijing to stop its support of North Korea, a US expert said Monday.
Gordon Chang, an East Asia security expert, made the case in an article in Forbes magazine, accusing China of failing to sincerely carry out UN sanctions and stressing that waging a trade war on China "may be the only way to obtain Beijing's cooperation on North Korea."
"North Korea looks impossible to solve, and it is if we see China as on our side. It is not. But if we treat China as part of the problem, which it most certainly is, then we can begin to craft solutions, like secondary sanctions," Chang said in the article.
"Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, will stop supporting North Korea only when the costs of doing so are too high. So far, his country has suffered almost no penalty," he said.
To impose costs, the Trump administration could cut "offending Chinese banks off from the global financial system, sanction every Chinese proliferator, and impose his threatened 45 percent across-the-board tariff on China's goods," the expert said.
China will try to retaliate, but has few effective options, Chang said, noting that China ran a $334.1 billion trade surplus in goods and services against the United States last year.
"Trade-surplus countries are vulnerable in trade wars, and that is especially true of a China with an already fragile economy that is dependent on the American market," he said.
China is North Korea's last-remaining major ally, and a key provider of food and fuel supplies. But it has been reluctant to use its influence over Pyongyang for fears that pushing the regime too hard could result in instability in the North and hurt Chinese national interests.
Analysts say that China often increased pressure on the North in the past, too, especially when Pyongyang defied international appeals, and carried out nuclear tests and other provocative acts, but China never went as far as to cause real pain to the North.
"A more coercive American approach may not work, but the current set of policies, in place for two decades, are guaranteed to fail. They have resulted in an even more irresponsible Beijing and a nuked-up Kim regime," Chang said.
"So it's time for fresh approaches, perhaps even to wage that trade war with China, not just to protect the jobs of American workers and the profits of American businesses but the lives of American citizens," he said. (Yonhap)