Trump’s lack of a North Korea strategy is drawing China and Russia closer

Isaac Stone Fish writes: In a dramatic change, the most shocking response to North Korea’s 3 July missile test – which some analysts think demonstrates Pyongyang’s ability to strike Alaska or Hawaii with a ballistic missile – came not from Donald Trump, but from Beijing and Moscow.

Trump’s Twitter response to the launch contained his typical combination of bluster, insult and prodding. “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life,” Trump said on 3 July, probably referring to the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, adding, “perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

By a happy coincidence for the two countries, the launch occurred during Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow. Hours before the launch, the Chinese Communist party secretary told Russian media that Sino-Russian strategic ties “are at the best point in history”, and the launch offered the two sides an occasion to demonstrate their closeness.

In a joint statement, China and Russia’s foreign ministries warned the situation on the Korean peninsula was so tense “it could lead to an armed conflict”. And it chastised the “relevant parties” – Trump, as well as Kim – to “refrain from provocative actions and warlike remarks”.

The striking thing about their statement is not only the language – mild when compared with Trump’s tweets, but surprisingly strident from China’s normally staid foreign ministry – but that Moscow and Beijing took the unusual step of issuing one together. [Continue reading…]

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