Professor Shaun Breslin comments on the relations between China, North Korea and the US, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has arrived in Beijng for an unannounced visit, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He comments:
"North Korea has tested China’s leadership credentials and skills. Throughout 2017, there had been considerable pressure on China to use its power over North Korea to stop testing nuclear and/or ballistic weapons.
"A standard Chinese response was first that this was primarily a Korea-US issue, and second, that sanctions did not work. Kim Jong Un’s apparent lack of desire to have strong links with the leadership in Beijing was also often cited as a third reason for China’s relative lack of influence.
"The meeting between Kim and President Trump in Singapore in June seemed to suggest that the first of these arguments was indeed true, and that this was an issue to be resolved by Washington-Pyongyang diplomacy. Yet the Singapore summit took place after Kim had made his first trip to Beijing as North Korean leader to meet with Xi in March, quickly followed by a second meeting in Dalian in May.
"Kim returning for a third meeting in four months a week after the Trump summit in June. Reports also suggested that China had also significantly cut its exports to Korea prior to the first of these meetings, perhaps exceeding the reductions stipulated in official UN sanctions.
"Clearly, US policy will be a major determinant of what happens to the Koreas in the future. But there can be little doubt that China has a significant role to play as well, and what Kim does in front of the cameras with the US President is at the very least influenced by what he discusses with the Chinese President behind closed doors."