President Donald Trump was "sentenced to death" by North Korea today, according to the country's state-run newspaper.
Allegedly, the president "'hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership' when he criticized Kim Jong Un's regime during a visit to South Korea," the Hermit Kingdom's newspaper/state-run mouthpiece, Rodong Sinmun, reported this morning (Nov. 15).
The editorial continued: "The worst crime for which [President Donald Trump] can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership. He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people."
This sort of fiery rhetoric from the Democratic Republic of Korea (the DPRK; a.k.a., North Korea) is nothing new.
Just last week, we saw the regime leader Kim Jong Un and Trump exchange school yard taunts...
In a response to North Korea calling Trump's speech in South Korea "reckless remarks by an old lunatic," Trump tweeted from Hanoi on Sunday morning: "Why would Kim Jong Un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?'"
We don't know what the Hermit Kingdom's leader hopes to achieve with this latest threat.
But we can take a guess at President Trump's reaction - a reaction that will almost certainly provoke China's ire.
See what this threat means for U.S.-China relations - and what those relations will mean for investors...
North Korea Will Pit China Against the United States
As North Korea's largest trading partner and chief source of food and fuel aid, China holds more sway over the regime than any other nation in the world.
And the last thing Beijing wants is for its big-mouth little brother nation to collapse. That would bring hundreds of thousands of refugees over the Red Dragon's borders while leaving its perimeters exposed to democratic (or, as far as China is concerned, "anti-Communist") South Korea.
As a result, China also holds sway over the United States when it comes to North Korea.
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If America really wants relations with the DPRK to one day calm down, it will have to kowtow to Beijing. Because no sanctions on North Korea will be complete without Beijing's cooperation.
But, as we've seen so many times in the past, when President Trump takes a potshot at North Korea on social media, China responds in anger.
Before Trump even assumed office, Beijing warned Trump on Jan. 5 not to "escalate" an already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula "through his liberal use of social media," reported Time that day.
Then, on April 14, China warned America once again: "The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering," China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, said in Beijing that day, according to China's state-run media outlet Xinhua. "If they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this," Mr. Wang said.
And again, on Aug. 14, China warned the U.S. president not to "play with fire" amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
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If Pyongyang's death threat provokes a response from POTUS' administration that matches the DPRK's rhetoric, Beijing will once again direct its anger our way - at a time when we still need China's cooperation the most.
Increasingly violent rhetoric between Pyongyang and President Trump will yield increasingly violent responses from China. Any action against North Korea risks Chinese military action, which would result in unspeakable loss of human life on all sides.
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