According to Fox News, the Chinese have turned back a fleet of North Korean freighters filled with coking coal, used to make steel, the one export that the Pyongyang regime has to sustain itself. At the same time, China closed an order for coal from the United States. The decisions represent Beijing’s joining the world community in punishing North Korea for its drive to build missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the American homeland.

The development represents a diplomatic victory for Donald Trump in that he has accomplished two things at once.

He has recruited China in his effort to stop North Korea from developing weapons to attack its neighbors as well as the United States. He has also provided a shot in the arm for coal country which turned out in droves last November to vote for him for president.

With a United States Navy battle group headed for the waters off North Korea and rumors of a Chinese military buildup on the country’s northern border, the pressure is on Kim Jong-un to back down and stop threatening to nuke other countries. So far the North Korean leader has remained defiant.

Trump’s strategy has been to persuade the Chinese to put Kim back in his box and stop him from doing something dangerous. China had been content to allow North Korea to be a thorn in the side of the United States.

However, Kim’s rhetoric and the constant firing of ballistic missiles has persuaded Beijing that North Korea has become a danger to the entire region.

Indeed, a Chinese military analyst recently published an article for a communist party newspaper that suggested that China might launch its own military strike against North Korean nuclear and missile facilities if Kim steps over the line.

A disclaimer was added that stated that the analyst was speaking only for himself, but the message was clear.

Everything depends on how sensible Kim is disposed to be or, absent that, North Korean’s military leadership who might be expected to remove him should he endanger the Communist state. It is certain that neither the North Korean state nor Kim himself would survive if a second Korean War were ever to break out.

Because such an event would be both a humanitarian and economic catastrophe that development is something that both Washington and Beijing are keen to avoid. While regime change may be a long term solution for the Korean problem, no one in the region nor the major powers wants to wage war to bring it about.