None of this, of course, is intended to suggest that China is not a critical player in the region, or that the U.S. can simply ignore China in its quest for solutions in Korea. But it is vital that policymakers in the U.S. and beyond recognize that China’s influence on Pyongyang is much more limited than conventional wisdom holds. Looking to Beijing for a solution is hence not only an abdication of American leadership but will also likely prove futile even as it distracts policymakers from making the more serious choices that have to be made. It is an embrace of easy rhetoric at the expense of hard reality, and accepting the hard reality is an imperative first step towards a resolution of the Korean crisis.
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