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China: North Korea’s ‘Rationality and Sincerity’ Better than Trump’s ‘Hard-Line Approach’

US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un went from rhetorical warfare to the verge of the unprecedented summit -- only for the hopes to be dashed in the final stretch
AFP Jung Yeon-je

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper praised the repressive communist regime of North Korea on Sunday for its “restraint, rationality and sincerity” in dealing with the allegedly volatile American government while working to assure that an in-person meeting occurs between dictator Kim Jong-un and American President Donald Trump.

Trump sent a letter to Kim on Thursday announcing he would no longer meeting with him on the scheduled date of June 12, following the publication of a series of belligerent remarks by North Korean officials against Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton. “Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote. White House officials also noted that North Korean representatives failed to show at numerous meetings to plan the logistics of the June 12 summit in Singapore.

This weekend, however, Kim Jong-un met with leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the second time in the past two months, seeking support to ensure that he will be allowed some of Trump’s time. Trump himself has said that the summit could still go on as planned, but that this depended upon North Korean officials showing decorum and professionalism in handling the preparations.

The government of China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and most important patron state, is committed to ensuring that the summit happens, an article in the Global Times this week insisted. In a weekend statement to the newspaper, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “China firmly supports the summit and hopes it could bring peace to the Korean Peninsula and good news to the world.”

“China will carry on to play a constructive role in Korean Peninsula issues,” the ministry statement concluded.

The Global Times has cited multiple Chinese government approved “experts” who state that Trump responding to the incessant belligerence from Pyongyang by canceling the summit made Trump, not Kim, look bad.

“Last week’s flip-flop helped North Korea earn sympathy from the international community while US prestige was damaged. And there is a high possibility that the Kim-Trump summit will be held as planned,” an expert identified as “Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University’s Institute of International Relations in Beijing,” told te newspaper.

In a separate opinion piece published Sunday, the Global Times contended that the North Korean government looked more reasonable than Washington in the ensuing dispute.

“In the past few days, Pyongyang showed restraint, rationality and sincerity to achieve permanent peace on the peninsula through denuclearization,” the piece argues. “Washington needs to stay sober at this time and not turn the hard-won meeting into a choice of either complete success or complete failure, turning the peace process on the peninsula into a roll of the dice.”

While China’s government publication claims North Korea came out looking better from its insulting approach to the United States than the trump administration, the Global Times lamented that it was possible that North Korea’s change in tone following the first cancelation of the summit “may encourage the White House’s obsession with its hard-line approach. In the future, Washington may threaten to withdraw from negotiations easily so as to pressurize Pyongyang and Seoul.”

China’s opinion of the negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang are especially important because of the key role that the Chinese government plays in ensuring that Kim Jong-un remains in power. Kim made his first visit abroad as head of state to China in March, receiving an estimated $400,000 in personal gifts from Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. He returned in early May, this time visiting the seaside resort city of Dalian instead of Beijing and attending a lavish “welcome banquet” in his honor.

Shortly after his return to Pyongyang, North Korea’s state media resumed its regular vitriolic anti-American programming, which had been largely absent of the pages of national publications following the announcement that Trump and Kim had agreed to meet. President Trump was quick to note the change.

“With deals, you have to have two parties who want to do it, he absolutely wanted to do it,” Trump said two weeks ago. “Perhaps they don’t want to do it. Perhaps they spoke with China. … President Xi could be influencing Kim Jong-un.”

China’s main talking point in urging the two nations to dialogue at the highest level has been insisting that the United States give free money and financial assets to the Kim regime. The Global Times requested in April that the United States consider that North Korea would never hand over its nuclear weapons program without “attractive rewards,” without specifying. In a joint statement with the South Korean government, China asserted in May that “the international community, including the United States, must actively take part in ensuring a bright future for North Korea through a security guarantee and support for its economic development.”

 

 

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