Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visits N.Korea before he meets Trump at G-20, a reunion of two leaders that are at different conflicts with the United States
In my blog published on 18 June 2018 Trump-Kim Summit: What’s in it for stakeholders?, I mentioned that the loser out of the renewed relationship between Kim and Trump is China.
In addition, Today, as I write this Chinese President Xi, has landed in North Korea for a two-day visit to meet notorious Kim Jong Un, while you may call it a general visit to the neighbor but it holds more significance after the February 2019, Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim failed.
This is the first trip of any Chinese premier in last 14 years, last trip being by Former President Hu Jintao in 2005 where he was hosted by the second North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Now, when I wrote why China is a loser was because China was losing a grip it once had over North Korea, earlier it was customary for North Korea to do anything that would please China but that on till Kim Jong Un took power.
Relations Relations Relations
China and North Korea were more like brothers, China always protected the North as its younger brother from aggressive bully United States. While the United States wanted to shatter North’s beach castle China stood as a guardian.
These two countries were so close that Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and North’s Kim Jong Il, went on to call the year 2009 as Sino-DPRK year of friendship.
Not Only did this stop the booming bromance of these two countries, China a North co-developed the Yalu River Bridge or famously called the Sino-Korean Friendship bridge.
While the bridge had to open in 2014, it remains incomplete at North Korean side as it just opens in the field in Sinuiju.
Since 2017 North Korea has demanded that Beijing must pay for the overdue.
In the bordering region of China’s Dandong, many North Koreans legally work in Chinese bars, pubs and restaurants, and other factories while the money that they earn form Chinese masters go back to North Korean government.
Nevertheless, this was all before 2017, when China had to place sanctions on North for nuclear weapons testing and ballistic missile trials, sending the region into a frenzy.
February 2017, after China halted imports of coal from North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, “this country [China], styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the US while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program”.
In May 2017, KCNA made an unprecedented criticism of China, saying “a string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from China every day only to render the present bad situation tenser” and that “China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations”
It has also called China as Global Power Chauvinist and blind to the honest-minded neighbor-much to our humor.
However, Kim has met with Xi every time he has met with the United States President, which clearly shows that the younger brother is still looking for permission from the elder one to continue playing with the bully.
Why this Meet Now?
China and Korea are in completely different conflict with the United States, Xi would be hoping to meet and discuss trade wat with Trump at the G-20 summit in Japan, later this month.
Trade war has completely engulfed the world economy especially after Huawei-, the mobile manufacturing brand was thrown out of the United States and most of North America including Canada.
In June 2016, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump vowed to cancel international trade deals and go on an offensive against Chinese economic practices, describing his promise as a reaction against “a leadership class that worships globalism.”
While at the same time, the US and China would have to cooperate and find solutions to many international conflicts especially the rogue islands in the South China Sea and North Korea.
Xi could also act as a messenger for Kim, through him the North Korean leader could get a whisper in Trump’s ear for a renewed opportunity of talks, denuclearization and sanction lifting.
This is a historic meeting as both Xi and Kim can decide to surround the United States in Asia by China increasing the trade war and North Korea carrying out more missile tests.
However, Xi is a smart leader he would want to give and take from North Korea and only take from the United States, through North Korea, China would get a wild card entry into the U.S –North Korea talks when/if they happen.
China has very well played the waiting game to hit the iron when it’s hot, the loser that it seemed in 2018 has carefully created a strategy to talk to both North and United States with a straight face.
Xi could end up renewing ties and trade with North Korea and get the incomplete business finished, moreover, finally talk and negotiate with Trump on the trade war.
And As they say in China: 告訴我，我忘了。告訴我，我記得。涉及我，我理解
“Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.”
Editing Inputs by Taru Medha