Trump’s sudden U-turn on N Korea summit will help China: New York Times
US President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to call off his summit with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un with less than three weeks to go could do the biggest favour to China in Asia while disappointing allies like South Korea. Japan will not be unhappy either as it did not feature enough in the Korean peace process and was under fear that reconciliation could make it most vulnerable to North Korea's war rhetoric.
According to a report in New York Times, Trump's sudden announcement to scuttle the scheduled meeting and pledge that America's "very strong sanctions" and "maximum pressure campaign" will continue will help China. According to NYT, the decision now might China to use delays in negotiations with Pyongyang to its advantages in trade negotiations with Washington.
It said although it is not clear how the Kim regime will react to Trump's hasty withdrawal from the summit the world was eagerly awaiting, but he if does not turn belligerent after this point, he will score enough brownie points among his neighbours, especially China - North Korea's closest ally in East Asia even though their relations had dipped in the recent years because of Kim's reckless nuclear ambitions.
China did not object to the UN sanctions imposed on North Korea since it did not approve of Kim's nuclear tests but now if the latter indeed turns a peaceful leader despite the scuttling of the June 12 summit, there is possibility of Pyongyang facing less crippling sanctions and that without even vowing to give up his nuclear arsenal.
"But if he refrains, Kim may have already earned enough goodwill among his neighbours - especially China, his country's main trading partner - to see some softening of the economic sanctions against his isolated nation, without agreeing to give up his nuclear arsenal," the NYT report said.
"Trump walking away from the summit lets North Korea meet all its objectives: public recognition, lighter sanctions, damage to US alliances and continued nuclear advancement," NYT quoted Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, as saying.
Trump's decision will also put South Korean President Moon Jae-in's credibility at stake. The Moon government put in a lot of efforts to see the Korean peace process progress. Starting from the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics in February to the historic Punmunjeom summit in April, Seoul did all it could to see North Korea reconcile with the international community. It even offered to facilitate the Kim-Trump talks even after Pyongyang blasted it recently while protesting US-led air combat drills in the Korean Peninsula.
"Moon Jae-in's people must be panic-stricken by now because they have invested so much in the Trump-Kim summit," NYT quoted Lee Byong-chul, a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation, Seoul, as saying. Lee even said that the Moon government could now face a "gleeful" opposition who will even "ridicule" them after the giant failure.
The NYT report said China also appeared nervous about North Korea's growing rapprochement with the US for it feared this could put North Korea away from its orbit of influence but now with the meeting getting scrapped, Beijing will have all the freedom to manoeuvre its North Korea policy.