China win­ner from sum­mit

The Western Star - - WORLD -

The out­come of the Sin­ga­pore sum­mit be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was good news for one ab­sent but key player: China.

China won big at the sum­mit af­ter Trump made sur­pris­ing pledges to sus­pend war games with South Korea and even­tu­ally pull U.S. troops from there. Bei­jing dis­likes the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence in South Korea and Ja­pan and has urged Wash­ing­ton to sus­pend the drills that Pyongyang claims are re­hearsals for in­va­sion, in re­turn for the North’s halt­ing of nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang told re­porters Wed­nes­day that Trump’s drills sus­pen­sion an­nounce­ment was “another proof that China’s pro­posal is le­git­i­mate, is rea­son­able (and) it ad­dresses the con­cerns of the two sides.’’

China wants to see a re­duc­tion in for­eign mil­i­tary forces in North­east Asia and for the gap be­tween Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies and part­ners to widen, said Ryan Hass, who di­rected China pol­icy for the U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil dur­ing the for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Bei­jing is now on track to achieve these ob­jec­tives at lit­tle cost.’’

But as soon as Kim steps off the plane China pro­vided him for the Sin­ga­pore trip, Bei­jing will be mind­ful of main­tain­ing its in­flu­ence over a Pyongyang that may feel less iso­lated af­ter Trump show­ered Kim with praises, called him a “very tal­ented man,’’ and made se­cu­rity con­ces­sions in re­turn for very lit­tle.

“Any im­prove­ment I think in the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship for the U.S. and North Korea, China could po­ten­tially see as a loss for China,’’ said Paul Haenle, a for­mer China di­rec­tor at the White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in the Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tions.

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