Sen. Lindsey Graham said on "Fox News Sunday" that he sees "China's hands all over" North Korea's latest statement calling the U.S. push for complete denuclearization "regrettable." He added, “If I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We've got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade.”
The big picture: Kim Jong-un has kept China updated on developments in his talks with the United States, visiting Beijing three times in the past few months to meet President Xi Jinping. And China's influence with North Korea is crucial leverage against Washington amid an escalating trade war.
Yes, but: North Korea's pivot was predicted by dozens of experts who said to watch for Kim to dial back vague promises of denuclearization after his summit in Singapore with President Trump.
Graham's full quote:
"I see China's hands all over this. We are in a fight with China. We buy $500 billion worth of goods from the Chinese; they buy $100 billion from us. They cheat, and President Trump wants to change the economic relationship with China, so if I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We've got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade. We sell them $100 billion; they sell us $500 billion. We can hurt them more than they'll hurt us, and all we're looking for is for them to stop cheating when it comes to trade. There is no doubt in my mind that it's the Chinese pulling the North Koreans back."