‘China could do more to restrain North Korea’s nuke ambitions’ – Michael Pillsbury
North Korea continues to ignore warnings from the UN about their advancing missile technology. The North has carried out five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches as it tries to achieve an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability.
Recent satellite images show North Korea is preparing for another launch test.
President Trump suggests China could do more to address the problem. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said recently: “The policy of strategic patience has ended. We're exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”
What can China do? RT America’s Ed Schultz discussed with Michael Pillsbury, author of the book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.
RT: Are US, Russian and Chinese approaches to North Korea different?
Michael Pillsbury: No, they tend to be parallel. Both Russia and China have declared for many years they don’t want nuclear weapons either in North Korea, or South Korea. So they joined us in some joint talks several years ago that failed. But they were parallel at that time; they are called the Six-Party talks. Unfortunately, the North Koreans outsmarted Russia, China, and America by taking some goodies, you might say – promise of two nuclear reactors and some other concessions in exchange for a false promise that they’d stopped their program. Now everybody is trying to run away – who was involved in those talks ten years ago.
RT: President Donald Trump believes China can do more to reel in the North Koreans to help solve the problem. Can they? Will they?
MP: China can do more. China has done not too much so far. They have done enough in the last couple of weeks that the North Koreas are beginning to complain and mock them and say that China is dancing to America's tune. But I would say if the level of friction were really high between China and North Korea, we would know about it. They’d break off diplomatic relations, for example. They are nowhere near that. China continues to sell oil through the sole pipeline into North Korea. That is a big source of influence right there.
RT: Will that be the next step, the US demanding China do something about North Korea’s resources?
MP: I think that would be the next step in addition to something else that is happening – that the US is deploying missile defense in South Korea. This has got the Chinese very upset because they distrust us. They believe this radar and the 48 missiles that go with it can also knock down Chinese missiles. So they don’t want it.
RT: Does China expect the US to ignore the rhetoric that is coming from Kim Jong-un on all of these?
MO: No, they joined us at the rhetorical level in condemning North Korea.
RT: And the Japanese now play a role in this. They had a missile drop 200 miles from their shore. They are most concerned about that, aren’t they?
MP: They are most upset of all because they think they are going to be targeted before we are.
RT: There are no good military options with North Korea. So what is the solution here?
MP: No, there is one military option. It is not an invasion – it is beefing up missile defense in Japan, in South Korea on our ships at sea around North Korea. It is expensive. But we can build a system that can knock down - for say the next ten years – any kind of missile North Korea might try to fire at the US or Japan. That is a kind of a military option.
RT: Do you feel like the world are united that they don’t want North Korea to have this capability?
MP: At the level of rhetoric – yes. But when it gets to really tough sanctions or cutting off the pipeline – really serious things, that has not been tried yet.
RT: Does North Korea disrupt what you write about in your book - the big mission of the Chinese to be the world superpower?
MP: … That is exactly how they see North Korea. They want to get back to the business of surpassing the US in terms of GDP. They’re already roughly ten times bigger than the Russian GDP. This is a country that used to be very backward and not even thought of in the 1970’s economically. They’ve surpassed us in some majors already. North Korea to them is a diversion and might upset the Americans. So we will cut off the terms of trade, the things that Senator Bernie Sanders has complained a lot about. The Chinese want to make sure Sanders never gets his way. He and Mr. Trump have an overlap to some degree on their view of China.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.