SEOUL — As it ends its first high-level diplomatic tour of Asia on Thursday, the Biden administration is banking on international alliances in the region to help stem the growing threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missiles and nuclear capabilities.
But the country that is perhaps in the best position to influence Pyongyang is one that President Biden has increasingly viewed as an adversary: China.
Following meetings this week in South Korea and Japan, the administration finds itself facing a diplomatic stalemate of the kind that irritated former President Barack Obama and drove former President Donald J. Trump to declare his love for Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, in a manic but ultimately thwarted drive for a breakthrough.
At stake is the risk posed by North Korea’s weapons systems and its repressive domestic policies involving surveillance, torture and prison camps, which international officials have said amount to human rights violations. Recent attempts by the Biden administration to open a line of communication were rebuffed by North Korea, leaving American officials to appeal to its partners in the region to join a pressure campaign against Pyongyang.
chief financial and political benefactor, and Mr. Blinken acknowledged that Beijing “has a critical role to play” in any diplomatic effort with Pyongyang. He suggested China was also concerned about North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs.
“China has a real interest in helping to deal with this,” Mr. Blinken said. “So we look to Beijing to play a role in advancing what is, I think, in everyone’s interests.”
Whether the United States can recruit Beijing to participate will be clearer after talks later on Thursday and on Friday in Anchorage, Alaska, when China’s top two diplomats meet with Mr. Blinken and the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan. American officials have billed the talks as a blunt exchange of policy views.
economic coercion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Mr. Blinken has previously described China as America’s “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” and the Biden administration has issued stern warnings and financial sanctions against Beijing, including on Wednesday, in response to some of its actions.