The Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia reported this on June 11: “When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hitched a ride on an Air China plane to his summit with Donald Trump in Singapore, the signal was clear: Beijing remains Pyongyang’s diplomatic wingman” (while the Trump-Kim summit result carries a heavy-weight message to East Asia and the world, here we focus on the aspect related to China).
The use of the word “remains” somehow reflects a serious ‘mistake’ made by most of the analysts, not just the Western but also the Asian, in late 2017 and early 2018, namely, an illusion that China was “excluded”, “marginalized”, “sidelined”, “angered” …… in the Korea Peninsula issue.
Before the Trump-Kim summit, Kim made two visits to China to hold direct face-to-face talk with Xi Jinping. The first, labeled as “secret” and “surprise” by some Western media such as New York Times and Huff Post, was held in Beijing on March 25-28 and the second, named as “surprise” by almost all the media around the world, was held in Dalian on May 7-8.
Aside from the facts listed above, we also have the decades-long reality that China has been the major trading partner of North Korea or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), let alone the strategic relationships between the two ruling political parties since the 1930s. One of the possible explanations for the ‘mistake’ is that quite many of these pundits wanted to downplay the role of China so as to mislead the public in order to pave the way for a “bloody nose” strike against Pyongyang. Fortunately, we have bypassed this horrible danger.
Trump was smart to suggest Kim to build condos on beaches for developing tourism, and Air China’s share price rallied 3.5% after the report of carrying Kim to Singapore. Korea, with its rich natural endowment and highly intelligent hard-working people, has a great potential to become a top-class economic power in the world.
It should be the Koreans to determine their lives. Chinese, American, Russian, Japanese or European, whoever, are outsiders. What we will see is how all these outsiders compete for the Koreans’ trust and friendship in the decades to come. So far, I believe the Chinese side outstands others.
Nevertheless, our readers must be warned that after Washington is free of the nuclear threat from Pyongyang, there will be no more distraction to escalate the tension over Taiwan and South China Sea against Beijing. Something unpleasant is going to happen soon.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.