Vice President Mike Pence visited the border between North Korea and South Korea, the Demilitarized Zone, and shot a tough glare towards the north on April 17.
Pence was not scheduled to step outside and look at the North Koreans, but told The Washington Post on April 19 why he did: "I thought it was important that we went outside. I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face."
Pence recalled how he traveled to Berlin Wall in 1978, and gave a look into communist East Germany:
I’d always believed I’d walked from freedom into tyranny. And I hadn’t felt that way until I stood outside the Freedom House. Just looking across [into North Korea], hearing the propaganda blaring, seeing the guards in the towers, it gave me the same feeling I had in 1978.
Pence also said the Trump administration wants North Korea to unilaterally surrender its ballistic missile and nuclear programs without any direct negotiations with the U.S.:
I think the path of negotiations with North Korea has been a colossal failure now for more than 25 years. We believe that through discussions and negotiations among nations apart from North Korea that we may well be able to bring the kind of economic and diplomatic pressure that would result in North Korea finally abandoning its nuclear ambitions and its ballistic missile program.
Pence noted that North Korea has violated the 1994 Agreed Framework, and the 2005 denuclearization agreement:
All of those negotiations and discussions failed, miserably. The time has come for us to take a fresh approach. And the approach President Trump has taken is not engagement with North Korea but renewed and more vigorous engagement with North Korea’s principle economic partner [China].
China appeared to rise to North Korea's defense on the same day as Pence's interview.
An unidentified U.S. defense official told CNN that China put its air force bombers armed with cruise missiles "on high alert."
According to the official, a large number of Chinese military aircraft have been readied to "reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency."
"Nobody thinks the Chinese are going to press North Korea militarily or bring the regime to its knees, but the strategy looks to China to find a political solution more than anything else," an unidentified senior Trump administration official told CNN.
While China flexed its military muscles, Pence gave a fiery speech from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, which was docked in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on April 19, notes The Associated Press:
The United States of America will always seek peace but under President [Donald] Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.
Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response.
During a news conference on April 20, Trump praised China for trying to rein in "the menace of North Korea" after the country's state-run media warned the U.S. about a "super-mighty preemptive strike," reports Reuters.
Trump said that "some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours," and Chinese President Xi Jinping would "try very hard" to pressure North Korea on its missile and nuclear programs.