Yesterday’s unprecedented meeting between North Korean’s leader Kim Jong-un and China’s president Xi Jinping showed Kim’s willingness to engage in diplomacy after a long period of estrangement. But Cornell University government professor
Andrew Mertha, who studies Chinese political institutions and the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party, says that recent developments in U.S.-North Korea relations have left Beijing scrambling.
“President Trump’s surprise announcement of a direct meeting with Kim Jing-un was not particularly welcome to China, a country that hates surprises.
“Beijing has to scramble to stay in the game with events moving at an uncomfortable breakneck speed. Whatever effect the Trump-Kim meeting will have, it will be felt most directly by China and by South Korea, so this was an important, if hasty and suboptimal, opportunity for Beijing to let Pyongyang know what China can and cannot accept in terms of regional security.
“And although China put a positive face on it, the leadership is likely privately seething at being forced to meet with the somewhat less-than-beloved Kim under circumstances not properly stage-managed by Beijing.”