Time is nigh for Beijing to cut oil lifeline to Kim
In shooting another missile over Japan yesterday, the ever-laughing North Korean “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un showed his contempt for those who would seek to restrict his nuclear ambitions.
So much for the UN and its perfidious US-promoted sanctions. So much for former occupier Japan, its existence is no longer needed. And so much for President Xi Jinping’s hopes of a calm, glorious elevation at the Communist Party congress in a month.
It’s hard to know whether Kim simply couldn’t care less about all this, or he cares so much that he is calculatedly seeking to undermine the above.
The effect is much the same.
Each new test of a missile or a nuclear bomb seems to underline the rapidity of Pyongyang’s advances.
Observers in Australia and other Western countries probably feel that this persistent testing is especially humiliating for the US, which has long led the attempts to constrain North Korea.
It is, and that effect is multiplied by President Donald Trump’s hyperbolic tweets. But it is becoming especially problematic for China.
Kim is not providing a shred of hope that he has any interest in any resolution short of his regime being accepted as nuclear-armed and worthy of respect.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is right when he says that North Koreans will eat grass rather than give up their nukes. Kim himself won’t be eating grass, but he’ll go to any length to ensure that his serfs do if necessary. His regime has pinned its future so exclusively on its nukes that if they are taken away it will surely fall. Such prophecies become selffulfilling if repeated and amplified as this one has been.
Beijing is right that it bears the brunt of any sanctions. That’s another reason to discuss with the US and South Korea about being prepared to step in to the North at some stage — potentially averting unification and complete regime collapse while helping secure a less nuclear-obsessed successor to the Kim dynasty.
China has held back its big weapon of cutting the crude oil “Friendship Pipeline”, but it’s of little value if never used.
The timing is terrible with the party congress so close, but China’s international prestige is at stake. The US is fast arming its friends and allies in the region, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, with anti-missile and other new weapons.
If Kim tests another nuke, these three might well consider going nuclear themselves.
Xi has to consider playing those high cards he has held back, if he wants to cement China’s regional prestige. If that time is not here yet, it’s very fast approaching as Kim rushes headlong for security and glory, or the opposites.
A US Air Force E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System takes off at Osan US Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea yesterday