China winner from summit
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.