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North Korea's Kim meets China's Xi following Trump summit

19 June 2018

President Trump took credit for stopping "war games" - referring to large-scale semiannual joint military exercises by the USA and South Korea that the countries are expected to halt as American and North Korean officials hammer out details of a denuclearization deal.

Until he shook hands with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, that idea was the sort of fodder satirists would use to point out Trump's less than peaceful ways.

Security was tight at the Beijing airport where paramilitary police prevented journalists from shooting photos.

The North Korean leader is believed to have landed in the Chinese capital late Tuesday morning, with ABC News reporting that a convoy believed to be carrying Kim had been spotted in central Beijing.

A ring of police vehicles and unmarked cars surrounded the perimeter of the guesthouse where Mr Kim stayed on his first visit earlier this year.

Following the Kim-Trump summit, China hinted that some sanctions relief could be considered if North Korea takes denuclearization steps, and that for Beijing the sanctions are not the goal in themselves. This year, he has met Chinese President Xi Jinping twice, South Korean President Moon Jae-in twice and Trump once.

Both China and Russian Federation have in the aftermath of that meeting called for global sanctions against North Korea to be loosened, though the USA has insisted that relief will only come when Pyongyang takes more substantive steps towards denuclearization.

In return for the denuclearisation pledge, Trump made the shock announcement that he would stop joint military drills with South Korea, long seen as a provocation by Pyongyang and Beijing. In exchange for that pledge, the United States has cancelled military exercises with South Korea, something Beijing had previously floated and known as the "freeze for freeze" initiative. "I think it's very provocative", he said.

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North Korea's plan to prioritise economic development over nuclear weapons emerged in April, when Kim said he wanted to move away from the byungjin policy, which put the two on a par.

In March, Kim told a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang that he "understands" the situation regarding the joint drills, according to South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, who had led the delegation. "I$3 hope both North Korea and the USA can carry out the outcomes of the leaders' summit and ... work together to push forward the peace process".

Kim's visit also reiterates the power China wields along the Korean Peninsula, having always been a communist ally of North Korea.

"It is unprecedented for a foreign leader to visit China three times in three months, but the unusual arrangement [reflects] it is a special moment for the Korean peninsula", he said.

Last week, it emerged that Chinese authorities were blocking internet searches for all words and articles deemed overly critical of Kim, including the popular Chinese expression "Jin San Pang", translating as 'Fatty the Third'. Kim could ask for a withdrawal of or a reduction in USA forces in South Korea - a longstanding goal in Pyongyang. However, Trump just imposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods and is proposing 10% tariffs on $200 billion more.

In contrast, the annual Ulchi is a weeklong emergency preparedness exercise supervised by the Ministry of Public Administration and Safety and has nothing to do with the USA troops.

The U.S. has 6,800 nuclear warheads, 4,000 of which are stockpiled and 1,800 deployed, and 2,800 retired, according to a report from the Federation of American Scientists.

The president also defended his decision to halt military exercises with South Korea in the region, writing that the so-called war games can start again if a deal isn't reached with North Korea.

North Korea's Kim meets China's Xi following Trump summit