What are Chinese “red lines” when it comes to the Korean Peninsula? What further actions by Pyongyang might lead China to fundamentally shift its approach to one that involves more comprehensive pressure and sanctions, such as a complete oil embargo? In this podcast, Dr. Tong Zhao, a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, tells Paul Haenle that while the sixth nuclear test did not cross a Chinese “red line”, there are actions North Korea could take that would do so.

Most notably, if North Korea were to launch a nuclear warhead and detonate it over the Pacific Ocean, that would cross Beijing’s “red line” and lead to a significantly harsher stance towards the regime, Zhao argued. This is especially alarming given statements by North Korea’s Foreign Minister, Ri Yong Ho, on September 22nd, that indicated North Korea may be preparing to do just that.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

Tong Zhao

Tong Zhao is a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.