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Want China to press North Korea harder? Put Japan into the mix

5 13 8

Chinese strongman Xi Jinping has a terrible weakness - and his name is Kim Jong Un.

This is supposed to be the Chinese President's big moment. Not since Deng Xiaoping's day has a mainland leader controlled, well, everything - foreign affairs, the economy, the military, censorship policy, you name it.

United States President Donald Trump's erratic White House and his scrapping of trade and climate-change deals, meanwhile, makes Mr Xi's team look like the adults in the room.

Except for that Kim fellow, whose antics in Pyongyang have strongman Xi looking befuddled and downright cowed. Mr Xi had better get his mojo back, and soon, to curb the North Korean leader's provocations the way only he can.

Increasingly, Beijing's global standing depends on it.

The US President is turning up the pressure on Mr Xi to get tough on his client-state. Mr Trump is inching towards blunt force, too, be it military action on the Korean peninsula or a trade war with China. But greater success might come from pulling Japan into the mix to throw Mr Xi off balance and prod him to use Beijing's considerable leverage over Mr Kim.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could do just that by urging the US to install a web of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) systems around his geopolitically vital nation. Mr Abe also could host America's Aegis Ashore weapons-interception........

© The Straits Times