Herb London: Chinese ‘Want Trump to Fail’ in North Korea

US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event in Beijing on November 9, 2017
AFP/Nicolas ASFOURI

Herb London, president of the London Center for Policy Research and former president of the Hudson Institute, said the Chinese government wants to see President Donald Trump fail in moves to curb threats from North Korea.

He made his remarks in a Monday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

Chinese officials are duplicitous in their public statements regarding North Korea, said London.

“The Chinese are equivocal,” London said. “They want it both ways. They’re saying on the one hand, ‘We’re doing everything in our power to pressure [North Korea],’ and yet [their] boats will be apprehended at sea delivering oil to the North Koreans. The Chinese obviously have a beast in the cage, speaking metaphorically, and they pull it out every once in awhile … to make the United States feel uneasy, and then they put that beast back in the cage.”

Chinese officials wish to see Trump fail in his efforts to deal with North Korea, said London.

“They said very recently at the United Nations that there should be a freeze-for-freeze proposal, which was basically silly because it created a moral equivalence between the United States and North Korea,” continued London. But when they said, ‘We can control North Korea’s testing,’ that was very revealing. Up until that point, several weeks ago, the Chinese never said that. Now they’re saying, ‘We have enough import that we can determine when or whether the North Koreans are engaged in any testing. But we’ve got to go beyond testing. … So yes, the Chinese could do more. Are they willing to do more? That remains the be seen. They are salivating at the moment. They want Trump to fail. They think this is an interesting opportunity for China in Asia. But if Trump doesn’t fail, they’ll say, ‘We did everything we could to cooperate with him.’”

China’s “free-for-freeze” proposal at the United Nations sought to halt joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises in exchange for an end to North Korea’s weapons development programs.

Mansour asked London how Trump should approach a meeting—tentatively agreed upon between the U.S. and North Korea—with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-in, asking, “What do you think the position of the Trump administration needs to be going in?”

“This is a high-wire act,” replied London. “Everyone in the Trump administration said to the president, ‘Don’t do it.’ After all, you’re going to take a tin-horn, third-rate, maybe fourth-rate, lunatic dictator of the world and you’re going to give him the prestige of sitting down with the President of the United States, which is exactly what he wants.’  Trump, however, is different from other presidents. If Trump is capable of setting the stage beforehand, before May, with what he wants, with two guarantees—one, the denuclearization of North Korea, and two, unlimited verification—then it strikes me it’s worth having these conversations. We can talk about nuances and the various kinds of concessions that the United States might make, but the important thing is to change the character of the Korean Peninsula. If in fact we can say, ‘Kim Jong-un, you are giving up nuclear weapons. You must. That’s what we stand for,’ and that’s going to be determined well before the summoned meaning. The summoned meaning is merely the frosting on the cake. If the cake will be baked now, and those guarantees have to be provided, if they are, then the president will meet with you. That, I think, is a worthwhile gamble. … But if we do not have that guarantee, then it’s a blue sky conversation, and it leads nowhere. Then it seems to me we have jeopardized the prestige of the United Stated worldwide, we have put our allies in a very awkward position, and we have created the environment in which dictators of the Kim Jong-un variety are capable of sitting down with a leader like Donald Trump. It’s absurd.”

London echoed the analysis of North Korea expert Michael Malice in describing any meeting between Trump and Kim as largely “prop forma,” with the most important aspect of negotiations occurring behind the scenes.

“Republicans will undoubtedly be very successful [in 2018 elections]” if Trump “pulls this off,” said London. “If [Donald Trump] fails, it’ll have a damaging impact on the Republican Party.”

Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).

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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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