Foreign Policy

NoKo Puppet Summoned to Beijing

In the latest chess move, China confirms Kim Jong-un's secret meeting with President Xi Jingping.

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 28, 2018

News broke Tuesday confirming a rumor that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had met with Chinese President Xi Jingping over the weekend in Beijing. Reporting on the meeting, the Chinese state-run media claimed Kim is committed to denuclearization. “It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the [Korean] peninsula,” said Kim. “The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, and create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace.” Xi also offered his support for a peaceful resolution, stating that it’s a “strategic choice and the only right choice both sides have made based on history and reality, the international and regional structure and the general situation of China-DPRK ties.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the meeting “evidence” that President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea is producing results. Sander’s asserted, “The Chinese government contacted the White House earlier on Tuesday to brief us on Kim Jong-un’s visit to Beijing. The briefing included a personal message from President Xi to President Trump, which has been conveyed to President Trump.”

This news follows closely on the heels of China’s desire to negotiate after Trump signed off on tariffs last week. And while the mainstream media has focused on the Kim regime’s willingness to seek a denuclearization deal, the real story here is that Trump didn’t fall for China’s bluff.

As we have noted in the past, North Korea is a puppet of Beijing, as its existence is sustained by economic support from China. In the past, China has been able to leverage the provocations of the Kim regime to gain favorable trade concessions from the U.S. in exchange for reining in its unruly ally. But this time when Kim began his saber rattling by engaging in forbidden missile launches and nuclear tests, Trump simply upped the ante. Trump first pressured China to deal with North Korea via standing by increased sanctions supported by the UN. Then, last week, Trump called out China for its unfair trade imbalance with the U.S., demanded a “reciprocal” deal and signed off on a $60 billion tariffs package.

While the Chinese government is firmly communist, its economy is successful because of its free-enterprise elements. The last thing Xi wants is anything that would seriously jeopardize the communist regime’s grip on power, and a severe contraction of China’s economy would certainly deal a serious blow to his control. Trump’s actions on both North Korea and China have proven successful thus far, causing Beijing and Pyongyang to pause and recalculate their next move. However, this geopolitical chess match is far from over, as both China and North Korea have been playing this game for a long time. For Trump, the endgame must be at the very least a fully denuclearized North Korea. Anything less would be a win for China and the Kim regime.

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