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Washington and Beijing on dangerous collision course over North Korea

Kim regime may be ultimate beneficiary of any secondary sanctions on China

| China

Now that U.S. President Donald Trump's strategy of pressuring China to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs has failed, Washington's options are narrowing. The recent passage of a set of sanctions against Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council may have given the U.S. some temporary breathing space before taking further steps to squeeze the Kim Jong Un regime. However, if Kim continues his provocative nuclear and missile tests, the U.S. may have to turn back to China and try arm-twisting to accomplish what Trump's sweet talk couldn't. At the moment, the most-talked about option is secondary sanctions against Chinese entities doing business with North Korea.

On the surface, the logic behind a "get tough" approach to China sounds impeccable. As Pyongyang's principal patron, China keeps the Kim regime on life support with trade and thus bears primary responsibility for preventing the rogue state from endangering the world. If Beijing continues its current course of shielding Pyongyang from external pressure, it will have to pay a real price. Secondary sanctions would make Chinese leaders appreciate the costs of their ill-advised policy.

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