Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the Trump administration is not planning on being patient with North Korean aggression, and Charles Krauthammer argued that such a threat is intended for the Chinese to hear, since they can affect what North Korea does:
Yes, when you say “Nothing is off the table,” you haven’t said anything new — that was said by all administrations. But when you add, which he did, “The era of strategic patience is over” — that was the theme of the Obama administration, and perhaps you might even say the Bush administration. Strategic patience, meaning: The regime is doomed, it can’t sustain itself, we’re going to wait, we’re not going to go to war, we’re not going to threaten. The regime understood that in Pyongyang, and they have therefore pushed ahead.
When we say, “That era is over,” that means only two things. Either we’re going to advocate or support the nuclearization of South Korea, and Japan will follow, or we are going to shoot them down or hit their bases. And the audience for this is not the regime in North Korea. It’s China. China are the ones who would be moved by either of those threats, and they are the key. But I think that is a real shift in our policy, if it’s going to have any effect, it’s going to be that rather than what we’ve done for the last eight years.