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October 07, 2021

New CNAS Policy Brief: Tangled Threats

Integrating U.S. Strategies toward China and North Korea

Washington, October 7, 2021—With China dominating much of the U.S. foreign policy focus, the question of where North Korea fits into the equation is an increasingly important one. Events on the Korean Peninsula implicate many of the diplomatic, security, economic, and governance questions that sit at the center of the U.S.-China contest over the future trajectory of regional and global order. The tangled threats from China and North Korea require integrated policies to address them.

A new policy brief by CNAS Fellow Jacob Stokes explores the intersection of the China challenge and the North Korea threat, offering potential policy frameworks for approaching China and North Korea as an interlocking pair and providing recommendations for policymakers.

“The United States should employ a strategy toward China and North Korea that blends calibrated pressure and results-oriented engagement,” writes Stokes. “The goal of this strategy should be problem-management rather than problem-solving.”

Washington should implement this approach across four areas:

  • Shaping U.S.-China relations regarding the Korean Peninsula
  • Engaging North Korea on political and security issues
  • Promoting stable deterrence in the region
  • Coordinating a shared inter-Korean and foreign policy with South Korea

“Tangled Threats” is the latest in a broader portfolio of research and policy recommendations on the China challenge and the North Korea threat.

To speak with Jacob Stokes or any of CNAS’ experts, please contact