Path: Sino-US >> Sino-US News>> Updates >>
The Pros and Cons of Trump-Kim Summit in China’s perspective
Photo: image.baidu.com
 
For China, the prospect of a peaceful and prosperous Korean peninsula falls in line with China’s goal, provided North Korea retains its allegiance to its socialist big brother. But that scenario may be too good to be true as a stronger and Machiavellian Kim more likely will opt for less dependence on China and maneuver between big powers, and that would make China jittery.

Under the pageantry of handshakes and shining smiles, the much-anticipated Trump-Kim summit ended with Trump making a substantial concession by halting military exercise on the Korean peninsula in exchange for North Korea’s vaguely worded commitment to denuclearization. The result is exactly what China is bidding for over the years. Although, Trump later downplayed China’s role in future denuclearization to a lesser extent, the rambling can’t be at more odds with reality given the fact that China’s leverage over the North Korea is so significant that any future development in implementing the agreement reached on the summit would fall through without China’s involvement, including the inspection of dismantling nuclear weapons, peace process or economic revitalization.

China will be a guarantor and a mediator between the two parties to ensure that any commitment made at the summit will be well implemented. For China, the prospect of a peaceful and prosperous Korean peninsula falls in line China’s goal, provided the North Korea retains its allegiance to its socialist big brother. If that’s the case, China will be a winner for all in terms of geopolitical and economic gains. But that possibility may be too good to be true as a stronger Kim more likely opt for an independent position and leveraging between big powers, and that would make China jittery.  
 
The Pros
 
The summit’s vaguely worded agreement serves as a stark reminder that any significant breakthrough will not occur without China’s participation. Time is on China’s side, the summit’s failure to provide details on inspection mechanism and timeline of denuclearization means Washington will need China if it wants to apply more pressure on Pyongyang, which gives Beijing the opportunity to exert influence in future negotiations and even increase China’s bargaining power to lobby Washington to soften its hardline policies on trade issues or even stop meddling in diplomatic tensions over the South China Sea.
 
The second windfall for China is a reduced American military presence in South Korea and discord between the US and its regional allies. For this, willingly or unwillingly, China owes a big gratitude to Trump, not only did he vow to suspend military exercises to placate North Korea, but also unintentionally drives wedges among America’s allies. South Korea's presidential office said it needs to seek clarity on Trump's intentions after he said Washington will stop joint military exercises. The Japanese government, which has been pressing for maximum pressure on North Korea until any concrete and tangible nuclear disarmament, must be mortified.
 
The third perk or pleasant surprise for China is the tremendous economic potentials stemming from the reform and opening up of North Korea’s economy, which hopefully will replicate China’s miracle in the past four decades. China has always encouraged Pyongyang to implement Chinese-style economic reforms, only to be snubbed by Kim who prioritize nuclear deterrence after assuming power until now. If the North Korea regime has shifted its strategy sincerely, it would be a huge bonus for China especially its rust belt northeastern provinces.
 
Due to the geographic proximity, the northeast of China has developed close economic ties with North Korea and there are even greater potentials for future cooperation. First area of economic cooperation is infrastructural projects, such as hydropower stations on the Yalu River, the waterway that separates China and North Korea. Another area of bilateral cooperation may be Rajin Port in North Korea, which is an ice-free port in the Rason Special Economic Zone at the northeast tip of North Korea with access to the open seas. An investment boom and improved logistics at the port would benefit not only North Korea but also China, giving it direct access to waters that are physically blocked by the Korean peninsula and Russia’s Far East. A third area of economic potential is a joint free-trade zone set up on two islands in the Yalu.
 
Moreover, China needs greater economic integration of North Korea in its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative in the region, of which three main projects are of strategic importance: the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC), the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen Pilot Area and the Liaoning Coastal Economic Belt. 
 
The Cons
 
The relationship between China and North Korea had been referred to as lips and teeth in Mao’s era but the alienation or rather enmity has grown in recent years after Kim came into power who sought independence from China and the leaders of the two countries haven’t met each other for well over 5 years. 
 
When Trump said he and Kim liked each other and promised reciprocal visits, China would be wary if the new-found intimacy would entice Kim from China and lead to rapprochement between the US and North Korea which could result in a realignment in the peninsula with North Korea shifting its allegiance to the US. One reminiscent and comparable lesson is Vietnam, a former Communist ally that has improved ties with the US and become one of the strongest opponents of China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. However, the odds of North Korea shifting its allegiance toward the US are not great, this is particularly true given the capriciousness and unreliability of Trump.
 
Washington also needs to bear in mind Kim may be trying to wean itself from too much dependence on China, and yet it is China which holds the de facto decisive power over any future arrangement on the Korean peninsula. The last time that the US underestimated China’s resolve on the Korean peninsula costs the US dearly.
 
However, what makes China jittery might be a more independent North Korea led by a cunning and Machiavellian leader who knows how to get the best out of maneuvering among major world powers, its allegiance might not be exclusive to China but maybe drifting to the US or Russia depending on situational changes or the interests of the regime. As North Korea is transforming itself from an international pariah into a somebody or a more confident player, such diplomatic fluidity will only grow and it will be frustrating and hard to accept in the eyes of its big socialist brother. 
 

Related Stories
Share this page
Touched Sympathetic Bored Angry Amused Sad Happy No comment

Chinese regulators approve Qualcomm purchase of NXP for US$44 billion, sources sayThe Pros and Cons of Trump-Kim Summit in China’s perspective‘Give ZTE the death sentence’ say senators as White House vows to resist repeal of Donald Trump’s dealDonald Trump vows to pursue aggressive trade action in ‘coming weeks’ against ChinaTencent to launch e-pass in Greater Bay Area in support of national planSinging competition contestant under fire for 'poor performance'What really came out of the Trump-Kim summit68 years versus ‘one minute’How the Trump-Kim summit is playing in North KoreaPudong New Area initiates digital court for business lawsuits involving foreign companies
< Prev Next >