Make China Pay for Not Helping with North Korea

If the People’s Republic of China won’t help the U.S. rein in the rogue regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il — which this week conducted a failed test of a missile designed to reach American cities — then the U.S. should stop helping China with its own economic and technological development.

China must support the U.S. position on North Korea in the U.N. Security Council or pay a price for not doing so.

In response to North Korea’s missile tests, Japan has sponsored a resolution in the Security Council that would bar nations from giving North Korea money, material or technology to advance its missile and nuclear programs.

According to a report in The Washington Post today, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, says the resolution is currently supported by 13 of the 15 members of the Security Council. The two laggards are Russia and the China.

Both nations are parties (along with the U.S., South Korea and Japan) to the so-called six-way talks with North Korea over its nuclear program. But those talks have gone nowhere, and there is no reason to believe Kim Jong Il will give up either his nuclear-weapons program or his program to build a intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. just because of talks.

China, on the other hand, borders on North Korea, is its leading trade partner, shares its repressive and socialist worldview and has tremendous leverage over the regime there. Had China not intervened in the Korean War in the 1950s, sending its own forces in to fight U.S. forces, North Korea would not exist today — and all of the Korean peninsula would be free and democratic.

Yet, if China has tremendous leverage over North Korea, we have some leverage over China: They make a tremendous amount of money from exports to the U.S. each year, while bringing in much desired U.S. technology and industrial know-how.

Since President Bush was elected, the U.S. trade deficit with China has skyrocketed from $84 billion in 2000 to $206.1 billion last year. And there is a disparity in this trade that transcends the burgeoning deficit. We get toys, games, clothes, furniture and knick-knacks from them. They get air, space and medical technology from us.

If China won’t vote with us on the North Korea resolution in the Security Council, President Bush should make them pay by slapping a moratorium on selected categories of Chinese imports.

We can get along without their t-shirts and coffee mugs much easier than they can get along without our $206 billion in cold cash.