The time for Rocket Man’s fun and games is over.
With a North Korean missile now capable of reaching anywhere in the United States and much of the world — and one that could be topped by a miniaturized nuke within the year — it is time for China to get serious about reining in the nasty hereditary Stalinist dictatorship next door.
With a missile range of up to 8,000 miles, the North Koreans now are “endangering world peace and the United States,” Defense Secretary General James Mattis declared at a press briefing yesterday alongside President Trump.
As Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have noted in their comments on applying pressure, China holds the key.
Kim Jong Un and his pariah state survive largely thanks to China’s trade and aid.
China provides North Korea with the vast majority of its food and its fuel. And China doesn’t mind watching the rogue regime tweak the United States. To its credit, China has recently taken small steps to publicly signal its displeasure.
Beijing recently announced it will briefly close the road and rail “Friendship Bridge,” which carries the majority of its trade with North Korea across the Yalu River, for one week in December for “repairs.” It has also suspended China Air flights to Pyongyang.
But Pyongyang doesn’t seem to have gotten the message.
Chinese President Xi Jinping needs to underscore that for Kim and shut down the bridge indefinitely. China could also declare the Korean Peninsula a “ballistic missile no-fly zone” — and let Kim know that it will shoot down missiles itself, or support the U.S. or any other regional power that does so.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, needs to make it more clear to China than it already has that there will be a price to be paid in trade and currency measures, and a more robust U.S. military presence in the western Pacific if Beijing fails to act.