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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: North Korea and the Bomb

The China Option

Progress in Pyongyang Must Go Through Beijing

Chinese and North Korean flags outside a restaurant in Ningbo, China, April 2016. Reuters

Among the challenges faced by the next president of the United States, perhaps none will be as serious as the question of how to deal with North Korea. The presence of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula is already a potential tripwire for war, and Pyongyang is seeking to develop the capability to strike the United States itself. And although U.S. officials routinely affirm that they will not accept the North as a nuclear power, it has become one nonetheless. Washington seems powerless to influence Pyongyang’s behavior.

For many analysts and officials seeking a breakthrough with North Korea, China is the last hope. As Pyongyang’s only ally and diplomatic and economic lifeline, China is thought to have a unique ability to influence the regime, and the United States has frequently sought its cooperation. Yet despite some deterioration in Chinese­–North Korean relations in recent years, Beijing

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