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North Korea’s chance to climb out of China’s shadow

19 6 30

THE proof of the pudding is in the eating. And where North Korea is concerned, no one should hold their breath till the meal is over, and the table cleared.

The June 12 Singapore Summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un held out promise but was scant on detail. Today US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Pyongyang, as he observed to reporters travelling with him, “to fill in the details on the commitments made.”

Kim Jong Un himself was not there to receive the top US diplomat but sent Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief and confidant instead. Pompeo will hold talks late tonight and early Saturday before he goes to Tokyo to brief Japanese and South Korean officials.

In a scantily covered trip earlier this month, Defence Secretary Gen James Mattis has already visited all the other interested parties, starting with China, Japan and South Korea.

Before he left, defence department officials anonymously billed it as a preparatory trip, though not in as many words. The US would shortly see if the North Koreans were “serious”, reporters were told in a “background” briefing at the Pentagon, the defence HQ .

SEE ALSO: North Korean official meets Pompeo in preparation for summit

Mattis encountered an extremely hardline public response from President Xi Jinping on American concerns over-militarisation of the South China Sea.

It was not just the strident language of Xi’s statement, which said “China would not surrender an inch of its territory” but also the tone of the entire visit, which is certain to impact any negotiations on denuclearisation of the North Korean peninsula.

China, which has long held up the North Korean regime, has always been the more dependable ally. As a nation which came into existence on the cusp of the Cold War immediately after WW II, North Korea was caught between Stalinist Russia and the US as the superpowers, both the victors of WWII, scrambled for the spoils in the upcoming influence game

Thousands of Chinese soldiers died beating back American troops as Chinese founder Chairman Mao desperately tried to fence in his fledgling Revolution of 1949, then only two years old. Mao’s own son, his........

© Asian Correspondent