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Lucas Niewenhuis June 19, 2018
For the third time in less than three months, Kim Jong-un has met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Here are SupChina’s reports on the first and second meetings.
This time, the visit to Beijing was announced (in Chinese) by Chinese state media while it happened — the visit was reported to last from June 19 to June 20, according to reports posted around 10am on the 19th, Beijing time. Because past practice was for Beijing to keep meetings with North Korean officials under wraps until they were completed, this led many foreign journalists such as NPR’s Anthony Kuhn to suspect that China is “feeling a bit more secure these days” with its North Korean relations.
Sanctions relief goes hand in hand with that sense of security, as NK News reports that “multiple DPRK-linked ships [have been] arriving at ports in China built to handle bulk commodities like iron and coal, goods sanctioned under UN measures.”
•Kim has transformed into a “very good diplomat,” Andrei Lankov, a Russian expert on North Korea, tells the New York Times (paywall). As he seeks further sanctions relief, “He wants to further disrupt the united China-U.S. front, which somewhat surprisingly emerged last year, but now is in critical condition due to the trade war.”
•China has “significant concerns” that part of that new diplomatic activity may be a direct dialogue with the U.S. that weakens China’s sway over its neighbor, former CIA analyst Chris Johnson told the South China Morning Post.
•“China would like Mr. Kim to be a little less cooperative with the United States — enough so that Mr. Trump might ease up on the tariffs, in the interest of keeping China in his corner where Pyongyang is concerned,” the New York Times writes.
•But overall, China is very satisfied with the course of North Korean diplomacy, as Quartz reports, because Trump very easily agreed to a major concession that China has sought for years: An indefinite freeze on American military exercises with South Korea.
Source: SubChina “Kim goes to Beijing after Singapore Summit”
Note: This is SubChina’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Washington Free Beacon’s article “The China Problem” shows that some Americans are deep in Thucydides Trap. We don’t know what Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korean Leader Kim Jung Un in their recent meeting. However, Xi is certainly correct even if he gave Kim the advice that Kim had to be ensured of North Korea’s security when Kim denuclearizes. It’s Xi’s sanctions that have helped to make Kim agree to denuclearize. If North Korea’s security is not ensured, China will have much to regret in helping the US bring Kim to the negotiation table.
China has made great contribution in helping the US solve the Korea crisis, but the Washington Free Beacon’s article still wants to demonize China for that. How irrational are people who have sunk deep in Thucydides Trap! If Americans are all in such a trap, a war between the US and China will be the reality.
To help people understand the situation, I reblog the said article titled “The China Problem” below:
The China Problem
Column: North Korea is just a part of the challenge confronting Trump and the United States
BY: Matthew Continetti
May 25, 2018 4:59 am
“I think I understand why that happened,” President Trump said Thursday, reflecting on a change in North Korean behavior that prompted him to cancel a planned summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, the president declined.
Allow me to speculate.
Until recently, the prospects of a summit were high. Experiencing the consequences of debilitating sanctions under President Trump’s “maximum pressure” (Chan Kai Yee’s comment: Without Chinese sanctions, how can there be maximum pressure? Stupid!) campaign, Kim Jong Un signaled a new openness. North and South Koreans marched together in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Kim pledged to suspend missile testing and destroy an already-disabled nuclear facility in advance of talks. And most important, at the beginning of May, Kim freed three American hostages in what Trump would describe as a “beautiful gesture” that “was very much appreciated.”
Then the turn came.
In early May, around the same time the hostages were released, Kim flew to Dalian, China, where he met for two days with Xi Jinping. We don’t know what the Chinese dictator and Kim said to each other. But we do know that, by the end of the meeting, the North Korean tyrant was backing away from his gestures of conciliation. The two governments issued a statement saying North Korea was open to giving up its nuclear weapons “as relevant parties eliminate the hostile policy and security threats” against its government. And in the weeks that followed, North Korea became increasingly belligerent, antagonistic toward key Trump officials, and, according to Mike Pompeo, uncommunicative.
Was the bilateral meeting a fool’s errand to begin with? Probably. Did John Bolton and Mike Pence’s references to the “Libya model” of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization spook the Communist apparatchiks? No doubt. Does Trump’s decision to withdraw put Kim and Xi on their heels? Absolutely.
We are dealing with both North Korea and China here. Beijing’s warnings that it cannot “control” Kim notwithstanding, the two governments function in a close alliance. North Korea would not exist without Beijing’s support. And Beijing protects North Korea precisely because it fears nothing more than another democracy on its borders. For the Chinese, one Mongolia is enough. If you doubt me, look up the history of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Taiwan, and Hong Kong since the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom.
We don’t have a North Korea problem. We have a China problem. North Korea is a wild dog—China holds the leash. To change North Korea’s behavior, change Chinese behavior first.
Trump has done this before. Beijing’s accession to U.N. sanctions against the north last September was the beginning of détente. By spring 2018, however, China was beginning to fear that something might actually come of the Trump-Kim bromance.
An April 22 article by Jane Perlez in the New York Times is a case in point. Headlined, “China, Feeling Left Out, Has Plenty to Worry About in North Korea-U.S. Talks,” the article reported:
With events moving so quickly, and Beijing finding itself largely left on the outside, analysts said China and its leader, Xi Jinping, must at least consider what they called worst-case contingencies.
“The loss of prestige is a big problem for China and Xi, who wants everyone else to view China as an essential actor of international relations, especially in the Northeast Asian context,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of international relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Now, suddenly, China is no longer relevant.”
Well, China became more relevant in the weeks after the Dalian conference. North Korea became more recalcitrant as China’s trade delegation to Washington, D.C., pressured the administration to relieve sanctions on tech giant ZTE and back off from its threat to impose tariffs and restrict investment. Beijing was testing how far it could push Trump. Could it make him back off his demands for complete denuclearization of the peninsula, leave John Bolton and Mike Pence in the Beltway, and stand down from his threats to renegotiate Sino-American trade?
The test failed. The summit is canceled. ZTE and trade are both unresolved. We are left where we were earlier this year, as foreign capitals attempt to make sense of Trump’s strategic ambiguity (the “Madman Theory” of foreign policy), “maximum pressure” grinds down what remains of the North Korean economy, and China and America eye each other warily.
It is this confrontation, between Washington and Beijing, which will determine the course of the 21st century. And as recent events have demonstrated, the confrontation is not merely geopolitical. It is also geo-economic. Just as China has participated in a shadow play of peninsular diplomacy, forever pledging North Korean denuclearization without any results, it has done a song-and-dance on trade policy, promising to open its economy as the U.S.-China trade deficit grew from $82 billion in 2000 to $337 billion in 2017.
On every front—social, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military—China is working to subvert America’s position in the Pacific and ultimately force us out of the region. The North Korean gambit is a part of that strategy. Trump was right to call the bluff.
To change the power dynamic in the region, however, he must go further. Continue sanctions against the north, and build up our military assets to maintain deterrence. Support the democratic government in Taiwan. Above all, target the real pillars of Chinese power: the forced technology transfer, discriminatory licensing restrictions, state-coordinated outbound investment, and cyber-theft and intrusion through which the Communist dictatorship has amassed its fortune—and threatened the future of freedom.
This entry was posted in National Security and tagged China, North Korea, Xi Jinping. Bookmark the permalink.
According to SubChina’s report “How will China act after Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal?” today, Iran’s oil export will not suffer due to Trump’s withdraw from Iran Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)) but due to US sanctions, Iranian oil price will fall and China may pay Iranian oil with its currency so that Iran will import more goods from China.
US sanctions have made Russia more aggressive though it has EU’s support. Now the US can only imposes sanctions on Iran alone. It will obviously be useless and give Iran the excuse to develop nuclear weapons and North Korea the excuse to make denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula more difficult. What is Trump thinking about? US diplomacy has been disastrous to itself? It first created de facto alliance between Russia and China to make Russia bold in Ukraine and Syria. Now it is pushing Iran to China’s arms.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SubChina’s report, full text of which is reblogged below:
How will China act after Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal?
By Lucas Niewenhuis
U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday, May 8, that he is unilaterally “terminating” American involvement in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal.
The Deal is the third major international commitment of the previous American administration that Trump has reneged on. Unlike the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have tried to contain China’s trading power, the Paris Agreement and the Iran Deal are both supported by China.
In all three cases, the rest of the world has moved on, leaving America alone: The TPP signatories minus the U.S. have all signaled that they are committing to a new deal, the Paris Agreement still stands, and negotiations for the survival of the Iran Deal with the European parties, Russia, and China will begin immediately, the Washington Post reports.
There are two major effects of Trump’s pullout from the Iran Deal that we want to highlight.
First, China will gladly continue buying Iran’s oil, despite Trump’s noises:
•China is the largest importer of Iranian oil, and it really loves the stuff: In the past two months leading up to the nuclear decision, China imported an average of around 700,000 barrels of crude per day or more from Iran, according to ClipperData, CNN reports. That’s an increase from less than 500,000 per day on average in 2014-2015.
•The Trump administration plans to place sanctions on Iran’s oil, but according to Reuters, South Korea has already announced that it would seek an exception from this regulation, and “Japan may follow suit.”
•China is likely to altogether ignore any such sanctions, multiple analysts told CNN and CNBC.
•“Iranian oil prices are likely to fall and be discounted as its pool of buyers shrink, making prices more attractive to the Chinese and other price-sensitive buyers,” an analyst told CNBC.
•A new oil futures market in Shanghai could become a hotbed for sanctions-skirting activity, David Fickling writes for Bloomberg (paywall), because sanctions are “typically enforced when banks attempt to clear dollar-denominated trades in New York.” Read more about the new oil futures market on SupChina.
•Analysts quoted in CNBC were less sure about the Shanghai possibilities, but told the news outlet that “the market will find ways to circumvent any sanctions, such as transferring supplies between floating storage, using barter trade, or not using U.S. banks.”
•China is also producing less oil nowadays, Fickling notes, as “domestic oilfields…get tapped out and the government pushes the big three state-owned firms to instead produce more gas.” In this environment, imports become a necessity to meet rising demand — China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest top oil importer last year.
Second, North Korea now has every reason to take advantage of America’s reduced credibility:
•“Only a fool would trust the US to keep its word in a rogue state nuke deal now,” Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, wrote on Twitter.
•Kim Jong-un is likely to “offer shallow, short-term concessions” when he meets Trump in a matter of weeks, “on the basis that the United States cannot be trusted to enter a long-term deal,” analysts told the New York Times (paywall).
•Kim may have backup from China now, after an all-smiles summit at the seaside of Dalian, China, between the North Korean and Chinese leaders this week. The Times notes that “the two leaders outlined a far more drawn-out process for denuclearization than is favored by either the United States or its ally Japan.”
Reuters Staff April 15, 2018
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese senior diplomat Song Tao and feted a Chinese art troupe led by Song, North Korean state media said on Sunday, indicating closer ties with China after Kim’s surprise visit to Beijing last month.
The North Korean leader on Saturday “warmly” greeted Song Tao and the Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang to perform and also expressed his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping after Song conveyed Xi’s greetings to Kim, the North’s official Korea Central News Agency said.
“He said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China,” the KCNA said.
In late March Kim made a rare visit to Beijing and met Xi, Kim’s first known journey abroad since he took power in 2011.
Footage broadcast on Chinese state television on Sunday evening showed Kim greeting Song with a warm hug and the pair later dining in a large hall adorned with a giant picture of Kim and Xi together last month.
Song told Kim that he intended his visit to help to advance the two leaders’ consensus in developing this “new phase” of bilateral relations and in making contributions toward safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, according to the television report.
The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party’s International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival.
The troupe performed on Saturday at the Mansudae Art Theatre, and North Korean leader Kim’s wife Ri Sol Ju watched a ballet, “Giselle”, performed by the National Ballet of China, but Kim was not present, the KCNA said.
North Korea’s ties with China, its sole ally, had become strained over the past couple of years over the North’s contentious missile and nuclear tests.
Song and Kim also exchanged their views on deepening bilateral relations, the KCNA said, with Kim saying he would develop their friendship into a “fresh phase of development”.
Reporting By Jane Chung; Additional reporting by Philip Wen in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Goodman
Source: Reuters “North Korean leader meets Chinese senior official, fetes Chinese art troupe”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
The above are photos of the three outfits for North Korean leader Kim Jung-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju when she accompanies Kim in his Beijing visit. SCMP says, “North Korea’s first lady has become an instant hit in China with her fashionable looks after accompanying her husband Kim Jong-un in a surprise visit to China” in its report “Kim Jong-un wife’s fashion sense a hit with China’s public” yesterday.
In the report, SCMP says that some Chinese web users “compared Ri’s look with that of South Korean celebrities, saying she was ‘as pretty as Song Hye-kyo’, a popular actress in China”.
Song was chosen as one of the 100 beautiful faces in the world 7 times from 2000 to 2016 with the highest ranking of the 5th.
We post Song’s photo below:
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report.
Christine Kim, Ben Blanchard March 28, 2018
SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – Accompanied by his wife, greeted by honor guards, and entertained at banquets, Kim Jong Un made his international debut as North Korea’s leader by being wined and dined in the capital of the world’s most populous country.
Kim’s “unofficial” visit to China this week marks his first known trip outside the North since taking power in late 2011, and it helped burnish the image he has recently been cultivating as a leader who has to be shown respect by the world’s most powerful.
Despite recent chilly relations between the neighbors, Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out an actual red carpet for Kim, who arrived from Pyongyang in a 21-car bulletproof train.
“Just look at Kim’s big smile on his face while he’s shaking hands with Xi,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean studies at South Korea’s Dongguk University. “Although it was Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since he took power, he looked quite confident, posing himself as a world player equal to China’s Xi.”
The surprise visit to Beijing comes as Kim has launched a diplomatic offensive, proposing upcoming summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump.
In line with the previous three visits by Kim’s father to China, the Chinese government described the trip as unofficial, with no North Korean flags hung around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square as happens with state visits.
But Chinese state television gave similar coverage to Kim’s meetings with Xi as they did to Xi’s meetings with Trump last year, with an unusually long 14-minute report of what Xi and Kim discussed and where and how they met, though the initial secrecy of the trip meant no live coverage of the welcome ceremony.
The images showed the two men chatting in a friendly way, and Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan also greeting Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju. Kim and Ri were shown waving out of a window as their car drew away.
In making the trip to Beijing in the customized train, Kim sought to highlight his place as the heir to his father Kim Jong Il, said Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary senior research fellow at Britain’s Leeds University. His father had also gone to China by train on his visits.
“Ordinary mortals just take the plane,” he said. “The train sets the precedent of following in daddy’s footsteps.”
But by making his wife a key figure in the Beijing trip, Kim parted from his father’s behavior and mirrored the ways of today’s modern country leaders.
Kim Jong Il had never been seen abroad with any of his wives, though he was believed to have been accompanied by the woman suspected of being his fourth wife on visits to China and Russia, yet it was never announced officially.
“Unlike his father, Kim Jong Un presented Ri Sol Ju as first lady of North Korea, emphasizing her status and portraying his image as a normal leader,” said Dongkuk University’s Kim. “It appears to be a well-calculated tactic that would help turn Kim’s hostile and unfavorable image to a gentle and sane one.”
LEGITIMACY AT HOME AND ABROAD
As the leader of a country often called reclusive and strange, Kim is also much younger than many world leaders, a difference that gets additional resonance in Asia, where respectful deference to elders is widely upheld.
Estimated to be 34, Kim is decades younger than 64-year-old Xi, 65-year-old Moon, and Trump, who is 71.
Frosty relations between Beijing and Pyongyang since Kim took office had seen state-to-state relations deteriorate, but the two sides have always maintained party-to-party ceremonies and traditions, such as sending envoys to share the outcomes of key party meetings, according to diplomats.
Kim officially cast his visit in the same light, saying he felt obligated to come congratulate Xi in person on his recent re-appointment as president, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s account of the trip.
China’s most senior party diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, attended the main meeting between Xi and Kim, along with Wang Huning, the party’s top theoretician. The government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, was also there, though at the far end of the table.
From the North, Kim Jong Un brought with him the country’s most high-profile officials, including vice chairman of the Workers’ Party Central Committee Choe Ryong Hae, Politburo member Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, and Kim Yong Chol, a former intelligence chief who now handles inter-Korean affairs.
Taking nearly all of his closest aides highlights the confidence he may be feeling now that he has secured his position, showing that he doesn’t fear there could be a coup against him during his time away, said Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
“We saw many high-ranking officials with Kim, but almost none from the military. One could worry about a military coup, but the fact that he made this trip as he did shows he’s completely in charge of the military as well as all of North Korea’s internal networks,” Yang said.
Reporting by Christine Kim and Heekyong Yang in SEOUL and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Josh Smith and Martin Howell
Source: Reuters “North Korea’s Kim seen building global status in trip to China”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.