Following the death of 22-year-old American Otto Warmbier, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson host a conference with China to discuss curbing North Korea’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has already conducted five nuclear tests, and US spy satellites have detected new activity from the nation’s underground nuclear test site. Officials have stated it is unclear whether this activity indicates a sixth nuclear test.

Trump set the tone for this meeting with a tweet: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.

At least I know China tried!"

Why exactly is the U.S. relying on China to solve the nuclear problem with North Korea, rather than taking matters into its own hands?

China accounts for around 90% of the country’s trade. Beijing also provides direct aid in the form of food and energy assistance to it, whereas aid from the US, Japan, and South Korea have massively tapered off in light of the human rights violations the nation has committed. North Korea depends upon this aid; after famine in the 90s killed between 800,000 and 2.4 million people, droughts and flooding over the past two years have damaged harvests and left 60 percent of the population food-insecure.

China has a soft spot for North Korea out of fear of the collapse of the regime, which would lead to annexation by South Korea and thus democratic unity across Korea.

Throughout the 20th century China only recognized South Korea as a nation while South Korea only recognized the Republic of China in Taiwan. From a financial standpoint, China should be more concerned over keeping South Korea happy rather than their Northern counterpart, seeing as South Korea accounts for $131 billion whereas North Korea accounts for a mere $6 billion.

Trump aids have indicated that the nation is ready to step up its game, declaring an end to “strategic patience” and that “all options are on the table,” and the administration is not entirely opposed to preemptive strikes to hinder Pyongyang’s efforts.

"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will," Trump told the Financial Times.

Ideally, the US will continue to compel China to exert its influence over the troublesome nation to put an end to their nuclear Development Program. However, should China fall short yet again, the US will consider taking matters into its own hands.