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The strategy behind Trump flattering China and praising Kim Jong Un

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“North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse,” President Donald Trump tweeted last week, in advance of his denuclearization talks with Kim later this month. “He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is.”

Trump’s praise for the North Korean dictator — and hopes for a breakthrough in negotiating peace — won’t surprise his detractors, either. “Kim Jong Un has become yet another authoritarian ruler that Trump simply can’t resist praising,” scoffed Slate, one of many media outlets mocking Trump’s presumed naiveté in foreign affairs and shallowness in judging character.

The shallowness, however, is all the media’s, whose blind hatred of Trump leads to a myopic analysis of his M.O. True, Trump has also lavished praise on China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, both strongmen. But that hasn’t prevented him from being tougher on China and Russia than any president in recent history, as their leaders no doubt rue.

To bring China to heel, Trump sent its economy reeling by levying steep tariffs and threatening to follow up with steeper ones still. Militarily, he is confronting........

© Financial Post