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Does China Win or Lose from the U.S.-North Korea Thaw?

June 26, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has
generated a considerable amount of controversy. Most analysts in
the United States and East Asia seem relieved that the meeting
continued the recent reduction in bilateral tensions and offers at
least some hope that the nuclear crisis can be brought to a
peaceful conclusion. However, a vocal minority, especially in the
United States and Japan, takes a different view, insisting that the
wily North Korean leader outwitted and out-bargained the U.S.
president. The debate in the United States largely breaks along
partisan lines, with most Republicans praising Trump’s performance and most
Democrats sharply criticizing it.

Another issue that has sparked controversy (although far less
attention) in both the United States and East Asia is whether the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) is pleased or displeased
about the results of the summit and the overall U.S.-North Korean
rapprochement. One faction argues that the outcome gratified
Beijing and that China was indeed a key architect of the meeting.
According to that thesis, the PRC is a significant winner in the
new, less confrontational environment between Washington and
Pyongyang. Writing in Bloomberg News, veteran foreign affairs
correspondent Nick Wadhams even insists that China “got everything it wanted” from the
Singapore summit. “Other than Kim Jong-un,” he states,
the biggest winner is “unquestionably the government of
President Xi Jinping, which had been advocating the very process
that Trump has now embarked upon.”

The post-summit
relationship now resembles a triangular one, with Beijing and
Washington vying for ways to influence Pyongyang, and the DPRK
seeking to use that competition to protect its own interests and
strengthen its position.

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin likewise asserts that China “is the biggest
winner” from the Trump-Kim summit. According to Rogin:
“In Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wildest dreams, he
could not have envisioned a better outcome-at least as it concerns
Beijing’s interests. After one day of meetings, Trump agreed
to halt U.S.-South Korea military exercises, doing exactly what the
Chinese government proposedahead of the summit.
Trump publicly stated he wants to remove all U.S. troops from South
Korea
, which would be a huge strategic windfall for
China.” Atlantic Council scholar Daniel Fried agrees that Kim and China were the principal
winners emerging from the summit, while the United States and its
allies achieved little of substance.

The opposing faction contends that China actually wanted to see
tensions on the Peninsula continue, since that situation tied down
U.S. military forces and prevented U.S. leaders from giving issues
such as the South China Sea and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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