Tensions rose between Washington and Pyongyang after Trump threatened North Korea in an apocalyptic style. He provoked a statement from North Korea which said that their military was preparing an operational plan to target areas around Guam. Trump's threats were widely criticized, at home and abroad, for being unnecessary and counterproductive for any future negotiations.

War of Words

While the hype in the media might predict an imminent war but nothing has actually changed on the ground. There is no visible movement of military hardware in any of the threatened countries.

There seems to have been no recent deployment of anti missile rocket system in or around Guam. There is also an absence of training for civilians on how and what to do in a war like situation. Rather, life moves on like a normal working day in these countries.

Both Trump and Kim are the type of persons who want to be seen as strong nationalist leaders. This urge makes them throw out statements without considering their repercussions. North Korea, in particular, has since its inception threatened Japan, South Korea but those threats were just verbal.

The China Factor

The main opposition to a US attack on North Korea is China. As the two countries share a direct border, it is obvious for China to get worried on any disaster forsaken by its neighbor, North Korea.

After the country's first ballistic missile tests in 2006 both Japan and South Korea put very tough sanctions on North Korea. Which prohibited the exports of processed foods and fertilizers into the country.

However, the Chinese kept their borders open and imported metals and coal. This helped the current regime to survive tough times.

China believes that an uncertain situation in North Korea will destabilize the whole region. In case of a war, the 25 million North Korean people could create a refugee crisis which could be a major setback for the Chinese economy.

Most importantly, China resents sharing a border with a country which has stationed over 27,000 US troops.

It will rather prefer Kim over another country that has close ties to the US. China has the key to cripple the North Korean economy by halting trade with the regime. It is the biggest trade partner of North Korea.

For helping the US solve the North Korea crisis, China would want concessions in the South China Sea, which they believe belongs to them. The Chinese have been intimidating and barring other countries of working in their own waters in the South China Sea. To put a check on the Chinese activities there, the US has often sailed its naval ships close to the Chinese bases, as a symbol of deterrence. China desperately wants this to end, and is willing to sacrifice North Korea for this purpose.

If the US trades North Korea with the South China Sea it could face a future shock with a Chinese economic leverage in the region. This could become a much bigger setback and could possibly run the US into a war with China.