When Donald Trump becomes U.S. president next month, one issue above all others could force his new administration to work closely with China and underscore why he and Beijing need each other – North Korea. A nuclear armed North Korea, developing missiles that could hit the U.S. west coast, is clearly bad news for Washington but also Pyongyang’s sometimes-reluctant ally Beijing, which fears one day those missiles could be aimed at them.
“There is enormous space for the two countries to cooperate on North Korea. The two must cooperate here. If they don’t, then there will be no resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat now with the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry. “It’s no good the United States saying China has to do more. Both have common interests they need to pursue, and both can do more,” he added.
North Korea is a tricky proposition even at the best of times for China, and simply easing up on U.N. sanctions as a way to express displeasure at Trump’s foreign policies could backfire badly for China, said one China-based Asian diplomat. “They can’t really do that without causing themselves problems,” the diplomat added, pointing to China’s desire to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
While China was angered by Trump’s call this month with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, …it was also quite restrained, said a senior Beijing-based Western diplomat. “China’s game now is to influence him and not antagonize him,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
China believes the two countries need each other, and as Trump is a businessman he understands that, the People’s Daily’s wrote last month.