Kim Jong Un Visits Beijing 🚂
On a train to China
Kim Jong Un made his first known trip outside of North Korea as head of state. The trip to Beijing to chat with China’s President Xi was unannounced, but people knew something was up when Kim’s bulletproof, green convoy of trains were seen entering Beijing.
A choreographed show of unity
North Korea’s relationship with China - a historic ally and one of it’s only trading partners - had been strained in recent years by Kim’s nuclear tests. This week’s visit, with photo ops and elaborate galas, signaled that China and North Korea are still close buds (and strategic allies).
Now a three-way conversation
China likely initiated the visit to insert it’s voice into the upcoming talks between Kim and Trump. Following the visit, Xi called Trump to fill him in on what was discussed - turning the bilateral discussion between Kim and Trump into a three-way convo with China.
Washington Post: Kim-Xi meeting presents a new challenge for Trump on North Korea
The right views this visit as a victory for President Trump. They see Kim’s visit as a sign of weakness leading up to the talks. They say he was ‘summoned’ to Beijing by China, it’s powerful benefactor. Articles from the right focus on the apparent progress being made toward a deal to denuclearize North Korea and attribute that progress to President Trump.
The left views this visit as a blow to President Trump and his prospects at the coming talks with North Korea. China is signaling closer alignment with North Korea: If China is willing to protect North Korea from American threats, the left argues, Trump will have less power in the negotiations.
Is China's involvement good or bad?
It's likely better than abstinence. Intentional or not, Trump deserves credit for doing what previous presidents could not: getting China actively engaged in the North Korea problem. China is flexing its muscle by letting the U.S. know there's no deal with NK without China's approval. China’s alignment with North Korea does put more power across the table from the U.S. - but it’s hard to think that Chinese engagement is not a critical part of the path toward resolution.
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