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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

North Korea's launch of a missile that appears capable of striking anywhere in the U.S. is an early test of the Trump administration's relationship with China, and the goodwill reinforced during President Trump's November meetings with General Secretary Xi Jinping in Beijing. But even if Xi wants to help, there are no good options.

Reality check: China doesn't actually have that much leverage with North Korea, and until the regime is interested in negotiations, even more help from China isn't going to help the U.S. solve the crisis.

North Korea does not appear interested in talks at this point. As expert Andrei Lankov has argued repeatedly:

"Pyongyang decision-makers see the ability to hit the United States as their best, and perhaps only, guarantee of long-term political survival. They are not going to stop testing until they reach that goal."

President Trump has threatened new sanctions, but so far none have been announced. And Beijing is resisting renewed calls from the administration to cut off the supply of oil to North Korea.

China has less leverage than Trump seems to believe. Xi Jinping is very unhappy with Kim Jong-un, and the special envoy he recently dispatched to Pyongyang was treated poorly and did not get a meeting with Kim.

China's main leverage point with North Korea is the supply of oil — but Beijing is wary of shutting it off out of concern that Pyongyang could turn on Beijing.

What to watch: If China does not at least reduce the oil supply to North Korea, expect the U.S. to sanction a major Chinese financial institution, such as China Merchants Bank or the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, to "punish" Chinese inaction. But that could backfire, as the anger in Beijing may lead China to halt any cooperation with the U.S. over North Korea.

The bottom line: China is not going to fix this problem. The U.S. either accepts a nuclear North Korea and sits down for negotiations once Kim is willing to talk, attempts a deterrence strategy that allows the region to live with a nuclear North Korea, or launches a pre-emptive war.

Go deeper

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Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time in 15 years that such a decree has been published. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.