China Edging North Korea Closer to Arms Talks with U.S., South Korea

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U.S. policymakers seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear program often point to Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang as the key to securing a binding disarmament agreement and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, China’s key interests are maintaining stability along its shared border with North Korea and limiting U.S. military influence in the region. Despite steadily worsening relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, China has been reluctant to use its vast economic leverage to compel North Korea to return to negotiations. The Cipher Brief’s Will Edwards spoke to Yun Sun, senior associate at the Stimson Center’s East Asia Program, about China’s complex relationship with North Korea, changes since President Donald Trump took office, and possibilities for future nonproliferation negotiations.

The Cipher Brief: China and North Korea have been allies for decades, and the relationship has seen its ups and downs. From an outside perspective, it would appear that relations have grown strained recently. How does the current state of the relationship compare to years past, and are there any new dynamics we haven’t seen previously?

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