After the U.S. military strikes against the Syrian government, Chinese president Xi Jinping was returning from his meeting with President Trump at the Mar-A-Lago resort when he asked for calm between both countries, which also include Russia who was reportedly livid about the strikes. As Blasting News has stated in a report about China's relationship with Syria, the Chinese government have usually voted along with Russia against the U.S. to also defend the Assad regime. Over the last week, however, it was reported that while Russia vetoed a resolution to condemn the Syrian government but rather than go along with them as they usually have, china abstained.

This fits the narrative that the Chinese are becoming more aligned with the U.S. as opposed to Russia. It was reported that on Wednesday, President Xi spoke with Trump on the phone also requesting calm over the growing tension with their neighbor North Korea. Trump has given the Chinese government an ultimatum to rein in Pyongyang or the U.S. would act alone. The reports of military action against the North Korean threat are that it's clearly being used as leverage for trade deals, which Trump referred to on Twitter, saying that if Xi solved the problem with North Korea, it would initiate a better deal with them.

China is North Korea's only trading partner and its been reported that in late February, Chinese officials turned cargo ships carrying coal back to the North and ordered trading companies to not accept the country's imports.

But since China has been pressured, it was also reported that on April 7 the Chinese government made an official order telling all trading partners to return their coal cargo. If they do continue to conduct more tests as they have over the past few months, China and South Korea have apparently agreed to slap more sanctions on Pyongyang.

Pragmatic trade deals with North Korea

Various data sources show that coal cargo has been returned to the North. In order to compensate for the loss, the U.S. has agreed to export coal to China which appears to be the beginning of his promise to start up the U.S. coal industry. The increase in coal from the U.S. appears to have spiked in February along with accepting imports from Russia.

UN sanctions enforced by the U.S, China, and other countries are considered in violation if they trade with the North. But the Chinese government on Thursday said they had expanded trade to and from the country with exports increased by 54.5 percent and imports at 18.4 percent.

Various reports say that iron ore, zinc, and other minerals are bought by the Chinese as well as garments and seafood, but coal imports are still banned because it's the North's hard-earner, which they count on the most. In a recent report by Blasting News that talks about the military options against the DPRK, China's role in reining in North Korea is said to play a major part in preventing chaos from erupting in the region.

This is likely the reason why they're still trading other items to keep from putting too much of a squeeze on the North. Russia was once a valued trading partner with the DPRK but due to the nuclear threat they pose, they've reportedly seen it as too much of a risk.

North Korea's leverage

Among the options mentioned for dealing with China's hostile neighbor has been for the U.S. to send nuclear weapons to South Korea for defense. At the same time, Xi said that China was committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with Kim Jong-un's regime are apparently in violation of, with reports of either an expected ballistic missile launch and an underground nuclear test.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that satellite images showed activity at the North's Punggye-ri nuclear site that appears primed and ready, originally suggesting that they would conduct a test on Saturday during the 105 birthday anniversary of the country's founder Kim Il-sung.

Foreign journalists in Pyongyang were told to expect “a great and important event” which many felt would be a nuclear test. Despite initial reports of a massive explosion last year, many outlets say that the next nuclear test conducted would be the sixth one, the fifth one apparently took place in 2006. They did try to conduct a ballistic missile test but it exploded before taking off from the launch pad.

In the mentioned article by Blasting News, it mentions former acting and deputy CIA director Mike Morell saying that the reason North Korea fired off missiles at the beginning of the Trump administration, was for leverage to be rewarded. In the past -- with the exception of the Obama administration who ignored North Korea -- in order to keep them from getting out of line, the U.S. has given aid and other items that can't be returned. The other option is to have an unstable region with nuclear weapons as opposed to a stable region with nuclear weapons.