Analysis: “Not likely” China will step up on North Korea

As President Trump and North Korea increase their war of words, China has been on the sidelines — and despite Mr. Trump’s previous criticisms of Beijing, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

CBS News foreign correspondent Ben Tracy says it is “not likely at all” that China will step up when it comes to the North Korea crisis. 

China is in a unique position since North Korea depends on China for 90 percent of its trade. But it’s unclear how much North Korea would even listen to any words from China, Tracy said.

Kim Jong Un’s regime is angry at China for going along with tough new sanctions the United Nations Security Council imposed last week, but Beijing could cut off North Korea’s oil supply — which could cause the regime to collapse, Tracy said. 

China fears refugees streaming into their country.

“If there is a war on the Korean Peninsula, China believes South Korea and the U.S. would win that war,” Tracy said. “And the U.S. military on its border is not something it is going to tolerate.”

China’s own relationship with the White House is “complicated at best,” Tracy said. 

“The Chinese prize stability and predictability,” Tracy said. “President Trump is constantly throwing them for a loop. One day, he’ll compliment China on its efforts to reign in North Korea and the next day, he threatens them with a trade war.”

Thursday’s actions aren’t likely to help matters. CBS News’ David Martin confirmed early Thursday that the destroyer the USS John McCain was patrolling the South China Sea 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of the disputed islands occupied by China. This will “only antagonize” China more, Tracy said. 

“When you consider how much the U.S. needs China on this particular issue with North Korea, these sorts of actions are not likely to help,” Tracy said.

Mr. Trump went after China during a news conference Thursday.

“I think China can do a lot more, yes, China can,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think China will do a lot more. Look, we have…

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