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Kim Jong-un in Beijing: a coincidence or China’s bargaining chip?

29 1 22

There is a debate about whether China used the “North Korea card” against Washington in its trade negotiations with the US, capitalising on Kim Jong-un’s visit to Beijing. The two international headline-making events happened simultaneously in Beijing. Interestingly, both Beijing and Washington flatly deny any link. Analysts are divided. It warrants discussion because it offers an important insight into how the two superpowers strategise the North Korea issue in their dealings.

Donald Trump has already openly complained, at least three times, that China was behind North Korea's defiant attitude that led to the negotiations being stalled last year. The US president said earlier this month that he would meet Kim soon. Therefore, President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Kim raised concerns in Washington.

In a gentlemen’s world, one does not mix apples and oranges. (Actually, we learned that early on, in kindergarten.) In a gentleman’s world, one also does not mix politics with trade; otherwise, the global free trade structure will crumble. Both Washington and Beijing claim they are gentlemen, in which case they should treat the North Korean nuclear issue and the US-China trade war as separate issues. But the idea that China may use North Korea as leverage in the trade war keeps popping up.

The probing question should be: are we living in a gentlemen’s world now, especially amid the increasing rivalry, competition and distrust between China and the United States?

Both Washington and Beijing feign political correctness.

When Mike Pompeo was asked, on January 7, whether the ongoing trade war was undermining progress on North Korea’s denuclearisation, the US secretary of state........

© South China Morning Post