Wanted: A Give-And-Take Diplomacy for the North Korea Crisis

Chinese soldiers marching in Red Square as part of Victory Day celebrations.

America should make a serious attempt at give-and-take diplomacy with China before the situation with North Korea becomes untenable.

If one is serious about seeking China’s support, then one must ask, “What is ‘a big give’ that would match ‘the big ask?’” Fortunately, there are major Chinese concerns the United States could address at a reasonable cost. For instance, China is very concerned that the anti-missile batteries the United States installed in South Korea might render China unable to retaliate if it came under a nuclear attack. The United States could readily commit itself to remove these batteries on the condition that the North Korean nuclear program is defanged. Similarly, the United States could commit to not positioning its forces on Chinese border, even if the two Koreas united. Other items come to mind, but one must acknowledge that the United States no longer holds the hegemon status that it once had, and that it cannot demand major concessions from other nations without properly addressing their concerns.

Granted, the United States’ “big give” may not be big enough; however, before the Trump administration writes off China—and finds that it is left with very poor options for dealing with North Korea—it ought to make a serious attempt at a give-and-take diplomacy. Maybe someone in the Trump administration can write a new chapter for the Art of the Deal.

Amitai Etzioni is a university professor and professor of international relations at George Washington University. He is the author of Avoiding War with China.

Image: kremlin.ru.