While there's anecdotal evidence that China and Russia have not gone to great lengths to enforce sanctions against North Korea and may have even helped the Kim regime avoid sanctions, the two countries had not formally called for rolling back sanctions until now.
China and Russia called for rolling back the sanctions they helped pass at the United Nations and their publicly-stated reason for doing so is one that Trump set up for them.
On Monday China and Russia proposed that the United Nations Security Council lift a ban on North Korea exporting statues, seafood and textiles, and ease restrictions on infrastructure projects and North Koreans working overseas, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters. [...]
Last week, China’s ambassador to the U.N. said a major cause of the deadlock and rising tensions was a failure to respond to “positive steps” taken by North Korea toward denuclearisation.
“The Russia-China initiative at UNSC is likely coordinated with Pyongyang as the proposal reflects North Korea’s demands to be rewarded for the concessions it has already taken,” said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. “Pyongyang’s recent threats of escalatory action are now backed by the Sino-Russian diplomatic offensive.”
North Korea has not actually taken any significant steps toward denuclearization and China knows that, but Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted over the past two years that Kim Jong-un was taking those steps.
Trump has told the world that his relationship with Kim is great. They "fell in love," Trump once said, but their brief marriage was mostly one-sided. Kim may have loved Trump for how useful of a tool he is, but nothing more.
The United States has not formally or officially rewarded North Korea through changes in policy for any of the steps Trump says they've taken because none of it is actually true. American intelligence knows that North Korea has not discontinued its nuclear weapons program and that public gestures taken by the Kim regime, such as partially dismantling test sites, were just for show and not signs of a real commitment to disarming. And that's a commitment they've never actually made, we should add.
But none of it has to be true. China and Russia can use Trump's words and the legitimacy he provided to Kim Jong-un to now publicly support Kim even if Kim has only added more weapons to his stockpile.
I will be surprised if North Korea does not conduct a weapons test of some description over the American holiday break.