Which Countries Support North Korea? If Trump Declares War, Things Could Change
The half-woken bear that is North Korea was prodded further on Tuesday by none other than President Donald Trump. The president's working vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey, took an unexpected turn when he issued a new level of threat against the notoriously sensitive DPRK regime, prompting questions about who would support North Korea in the event of a war between the two countries.
Trump's statement before the press on Tuesday has been considered a significant amplification of the ongoing rhetoric surrounding the North Korean nuclear situation. "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States... They will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before," Trump said to reporters. This escalating rhetoric has many around the world concerned about a potential military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea, and which nations would take which side.
China is largely considered North Korea's biggest ally right now. Despite escalating international sanctions in response to North Korea's recent nuclear exploits, China hasn't done much to show austerity to its neighbor. Trade between the two countries was up 10 percent in the first half of this year as compared to the same time last year, indicating that the two countries are still working together economically without much disruption. Chinese president Xi Jinping also celebrated the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army last week According to Harvard international affairs professor Graham Allison, who wrote an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times on the matter, Xi's parade may have been a signal to the United States to back off, not North Korea.
The Russian government has also expressed support for North Korea, although it's difficult to say how far that support goes. Moscow has consistently encouraged the world community to keep positive relations with North Korea, and in 2015, even established a "year of friendship" between the two countries to strengthen ties.
Russian-North Korean trade has also increased this year. Russia has been making up for the deficits in coal trade that China imposed, which is critical since it's North Korea's primary foreign currency. However, Russia has also condemned North Korea's nuclear program, and even though Russian-U.S. relations are at a low point right now, it's difficult to see nuclear escalation getting no response from Vladimir Putin.
A few other countries have expressed support for North Korea in the past, including Bulgaria, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, it's the big superpowers with the potential to challenge the U.S. military that the world needs to be concerned about. China and Russia's influence over the North Korean regime may be what ends up diffusing the tension between the DPRK and the U.S. after all.