On Tuesday, North Korean President Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a secret meeting where they discussed denuclearization. After the meeting, Chinese media reported that Pyongyang’s leader indicated that North Korea was willing to eventually give up its nuclear weapons program.
Kim’s meeting with Jinping comes after an announcement that the North Korean leader desired to meet with President Donald Trump. The meeting between Trump and Kim is expected to take place in May. Naturally, Kim’s meeting with China has inspired much speculation on negotiations regarding the rogue regime’s nuclear aspirations.
Is Kim Jong Un being sincere? Or is he simply playing his father’s games?
Kim Jong Un Tells China North Korea Is Ready to Denuclearize
The North Korean leader arrived in China on Sunday and left on Tuesday afternoon. Xinhua, China’s official press agency, reported that Kim told China’s leadership that he was willing to give up his nuclear weapons program if certain conditions were met.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” he said.
It is believed that one of Pyongyang’s conditions includes removing a U.S. nuclear guarantee for South Korea. The guarantee — also known as a nuclear umbrella — is an agreement stating that the U.S. would use nuclear weapons to retaliate against any nation that launches a nuclear strike at South Korea.
The meeting between Kim and Jinping was secret. Neither government announced Kim’s visit beforehand, and it is believed to be an attempt to repair relations between the two nations — whose ties have become tenuous over the past year. Tensions began to build when North Korea conducted ballistic missile tests after Xi Jinping issued a warning against such an action. Along with the rest of the international community, China also imposed their own sanctions against the rogue regime.
What Does This Visit Mean for Kim’s Upcoming Meeting With Trump?
If North Korea and China manage to repair their relationship, it could create additional challenges for the Trump administration when it comes to pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. China has been Pyongyang’s closest allies — and primary supplier of food and munitions for decades.
Orville Schell, the director of the Center on U.S.- China Relations at Asia Society in New York – indicated that President Trump could be the odd man out in negotiations between the United States, China, and North Korea. “That would make Trump like the three-wheel bicycle,” he told The New York Times, “He would have to go to Beijing again, and almost be the supplicant to these old allies that have patched up their marriage.”
President Trump was optimistic about his upcoming meeting. In a tweet on Tuesday, he stated:
“For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”
Nevertheless, Trump tempered his optimism with another tweet stating that “maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”
Is Kim Playing His Father’s Games?
So what’s going on here? Is the North Korean dictator serious about denuclearization? Or is he simply dangling a carrot to get the U.S. to ease up on the sanctions? We have already seen Kim Jong Il, the now-deceased dictator of North Korea, entice previous U.S. presidents with promises of denuclearization in exchange for food and other resources. We all saw how that turned out.
However, it’s still too early to tell. If their current actions are any indication, Kim might be following in his father’s footsteps. On Wednesday, Fox News reported that “increased activity” was recently detected at a North Korean nuclear site. While this nuclear activity could be designed to generate electricity, it still casts doubt over Pyongyang’s true intentions. Either way, it appears that this situation has become more complex.