It’s been an odd few weeks on the Korean peninsula. Many blame North Korean military parades and the recent missile test. Though such events may be the primary causes for the current tensions, they are fairly commonplace in Pyongyang.
Instead, the United States and its new administration is the new factor in the mix. The Trump administration’s moves may have deterred North Korea from conducting a sixth nuclear test for now. And reports from the China-North Korea border suggest that Chinese authorities are at least enforcing sanctions on North Korea to some degree, causing concern in Pyongyang.
But the historical pattern suggests that Chinese enforcement of sanctions on North Korea is often temporary. President Trump’s statement that he has “great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea” may be premature. China’s strategic interest in maintaining status quo remains the same. Overall, American policy moves and signals on Korea over the past few weeks may have done more harm than good for U.S. policy objectives in the long run.