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Obama sanctions on North Korea are also aimed at China

The tough economic sanctions set by President Obama against North Korea and its elite are a risky move, but they are set amid a new US strategy to stand up to China and its expanding influence in Asia.

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The Korean Peninsula has known neither war nor peace since a conflict there in 1950-53 ended with an unstable truce. In March, however, the mood changed. North Korea snk a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. It was the largest military attack by the North since the end of the Korean War.

On Monday, President Obama gave his strongest response yet. He slapped tough economic sanctions on key players and institutions in Pyongyang, aimed at ending the country’s nuclear-weapons program and its export of nuclear material to other countries.

It was an unusually strong response from a US president who prefers talking over exerting pressure, and who wants the United States to focus on rebuilding its economy. But Mr. Obama was forced to act.

North Korea is not only more threatening to the region and the world with its new nuclear weapons and missiles, but its chief ally and economic supporter, China, did not even condemn the naval attack or admit that the North did it – despite clear evidence.

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