Yesterday Japan, today South Korea, tomorrow China. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived at Osan Air Base in South Korea to begin his day of official discussions and meetings with South Korean leaders, diplomats and policy makers.
The topic of North Korean aggression was the central topic of discussion and T-Rex pulled no diplomatic punches when he stated the U.S. policy of strategic patience with North Korea has come to an end.
That remark stands as a direct announcement of a change in policy position toward North Korea. “Strategic Patience” was the policy of Secretary Clinton and President Obama that yielded no benefit as North Korea continued testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles throughout president Obama’s terms in office.
President Trump and Secretary Tillerson are taking a different path to shut down the hostilities and aggressions of the North Korean regime. We can anticipate Tillerson to forcefully deliver a message of expectation to China tomorrow. Expectation that China will step in and become more forceful in controlling the N. Korean provocations.
The leverage for China to act will be the benefit of economics, and trade. It would not surprise us for T-Rex to tell China that if they do not act they will lost their Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status with the U.S.
The U.S. Chinese lobby for MFN status is massive and shows how important that status is to their economy.
WASHINGTON DC – […] “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures,” Tillerson said during the trip, which included a visit to the demilitarized zone and is one leg of a swing from Japan to China. “All options are on the table.”
Those options could include a military attack, but Tillerson said that would only be in response to escalating provocations by North Korea. “If North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that will be met with an appropriate response,” he said. “If they elevate the threats of their weapons program to the level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”
Any new U.S. policy towards North Korea need to be implemented in concert — or at least with an understanding — not just among allies in Japan and South Korea, but in China. That relationship has grown tense, as China is angry that the United States is deploying a missile defense battery to South Korea. Meanwhile, American lawmakers are mulling sanctions designed to punish China for preparing to deploy surface-air missiles to one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, where the Chinese are asserting sovereignty claims.
“While we acknowledge China’s opposition [to the missile defense system], its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling,” Tillerson said. “We ask China to refrain from such action. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary, that being the escalating threat from North Korea.” (read more)