What do you do with a problem like Korea?
Last weekend President Donald Trump and China’s president Xi Jinping met at Mar-a-Lago.
The state dinner featured a side of tactical bombing of Syrian airstrips and a bit of Sound of Music diplomacy from the First Daughter. Knowing the room would be tense, she deployed her charming children to serenade the Chinese President and his wife…in Chinese.
Ivanka assumed, or rightly knew, that there is nothing like having the children or grandchildren of a host put on a cute performance to cut down tensions in a room full of VIPs with competing agendas.
And there certainly were competing agendas Friday night between Presidents Trump and Xi, with the two coming together for their first in-person meeting to discuss trade disputes, the increased nuclear threat of North Korea and other issues.
Very proud of Arabella and Joseph for their performance in honor of President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan’s official visit to the US! pic.twitter.com/fu3RIh26UO
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 7, 2017
The issue of North Korea and that nation’s threat to launch nuclear weapons was certainly a topic of discussion. To paraphrase a famous song from the musical, “What do you do with a problem like Korea”, and its psychotic leader Kim Jong-un?
President Trump tweeted:
I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
Indeed, it appears as if a deal has been struck, as the Chinese are returning shipments of coal back to the rogue nation.
China’s customs department has issued an official order telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said a trading source at Dandong Chengtai Trade Co., the biggest buyer of coal from the isolated country.
Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.
The source at Dandong Chengtai said the company had 600,000 tons of North Korean coal sitting at various ports, and a total of 2 million tons was stranded at various Chinese ports, waiting to be returned.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
China is now going to import American coal.
Buying U.S. coking coal marks a U-turn for China: No U.S. coking coal was exported to China between late 2014 and 2016. By February, coal shipments from the U.S. to China amounted to more than 400,000 tons.
Global coal supplies have tightened recently, partly as a result of China forcing domestic producers to cut output and a cyclone curbing Australian coal shipments. The effect of the tightened coal supply has driven the price of premium coking coal to three times the level it was just one year ago.
If North Korea has lost China, then it is probably close to the time when North Korea tells Dear Leader, “So long, farewell!”