The conditional is the journalist's best friend. Words like "could" and "may" exempt any sentence from being definite. But when one considers North Korea, China and the United States and the realities of the three-way relationship, such conditionals are the only truth there is.

trump, in saying America will solve the North Korea problem, is only expressing what any president would at least imply or think. Failing action by China or North Korea, if the possibility of a missile hitting the US is actual, so too is the solution. Thus we can say, in light of the President's stated position, the ball is now in the other court.

Financial Times interview

Insofar as this is breaking news, it amounts to an interview in the Financial Times which reiterates and underlines Trump's stated resolve. The takeaway words: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.” The reason why this is the occasion for a story is that Presidents Xi of China and Trump of the US will be meeting in sunny Florida at what the president calls the Winter White House later this week.

In point of fact

The situation is unchanged. The only change is that the President is signaling, in ever more insistent terms, a two-stage response. He seems to believe that China can solve the problem of North Korea. And he seems to believe that being vaguely menacing will have a positive effect on things.

The fact is that the things China can do are quite limited. The US has every reason to believe that North Korea will keep putting its nose to the grindstone. The estimate is now that North Korea could get a missile to the US by the end if Trump's first term, assuming it ends in four years.

Why Trump makes sense

The sense the president makes is that China can do more if it is keenly aware that the US could be very serious.

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The sense is also that if someone says I will hit you when it becomes possible and no one can help, you may have no alternative but to shield yourself or even hit back. If nonviolent, you shield. If not you hit.