NEW YORK, Nov 23, 20 (UPI) – The United States’ “maximum pressure” policy against North Korea was working in 2018 until Chinese leader Xi Jinping started meeting Kim Jong Un and influencing his most important decisions, a US analyst said.
Joseph Bosco, senior researcher at the Institute for Corean-American Studies in Washington, told a virtual forum on Friday organized by the Global Peace Foundation and other NGOs that President Donald Trump’s policy towards North Korea had radically changed, as Xi dragged Kim into his sphere. influence.
After Xi “got into the situation,” North Korea’s tone toward the United States visibly hardened, Bosco said, referring to Xi and Kim’s first “surprise” summit in March 2018.
Ahead of the summit, North Korea was feeling the heat after a year of Trump warnings that included threats of “fire and fury.” The president also said he kept “all options on the table” if Pyongyang threatened the United States with nuclear missiles.
According to Bosco, the three components of maximum pressure from the Trump administration – economic sanctions, the danger of a US military attack, and the threat of North Korean regime change – may have convinced Kim to bring some changes.
“Pyongyang could see the writing on the wall,” the analyst said. Kim signaled he was “ready to talk” by sending his sister Kim Yo Jong to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in the south in February.
Bosco said China’s influence over Kim likely increased after the first US-North Korean summit in Singapore, when Kim “theoretically agreed” to denuclearization, leaving Trump with the impression that a major deal was at hand.
But in February 2019, when Trump met with Kim for their second official summit in Vietnam, Kim’s stance had hardened.
“What happened was the intervention of China and Xi,” Bosco said.
According to the analyst, Beijing may not fully support the denuclearization of North Korea. Bosco said China participated in the early North Korean efforts to gain access to Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear grid in Pakistan.
North Korea also serves as a “useful distraction” for China. Pyongyang is helping keep the United States out of its eyes on China’s “maligned activities” in trade, the South China Sea, Taiwan and human rights issues, according to the analyst.
Chinese analysts disagree.
Huiyao Wang, chairman of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank in Beijing, told the forum on Friday that it was in China’s best interest for the two Koreas to unite and tensions to subside. in the peninsula.
China and Korea have a 2,000-year-old relationship and history shows that a stable situation on the peninsula has benefited China, Wang said.
North Korea’s natural resources, including rare earths, are estimated at $ 10 trillion, and a unified Korea would be an “economic power” of over 70 million people with an economy of $ 2 trillion, he said. Wang said.
The unification of Korea is desirable, but obstacles remain, the analyst said. The huge economic disparity between North and South means that South Koreans are less willing to welcome unification.
John Everard, the former British senior envoy to North Korea from 2006 to 2008, told the online meeting that South Korean opinion indicates deep skepticism about the benefits of a unified peninsula.
“It’s a battle we’re losing,” Everard said. Attitudes indicate that South Koreans support unification, but the attitude, “Not with my money, not in my lifetime” remains.
“Until we win the hearts and minds of the South Korean people, we are not going anywhere,” the former ambassador said, adding that North Korean enthusiasm is greater because the North Koreans believe that unification means they would have access to South Korean living standards. .
US President-elect Joe Biden, who is to be sworn in in two months, is likely to bring a new approach to the Koreas.
Wang, who said he hoped the United States would reaffirm its traditional leadership role under Biden, said the new administration promised a return to old normalcy in US-China relations after an era of confrontation.
“We could probably have a fresh start,” he said.
The Global Peace Foundation is affiliated with the ultimate holding company that owns United Press International.
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