Monday, 25 Mar 2019
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How will China, North Korea, Japan act after Trump-Kim deal-less summit?

Updated at Thursday, 07 Mar 2019, 16:53
The Hanoitimes - The summit leaves mixed impacts on big stakeholders of the denuclearization process.
The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to yield any written agreement, sparking concerns over the denuclearization that has been a big issue bothering the whole world for years.
 
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the second summit in Hanoi on February 27. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the second summit in Hanoi on February 27. Photo: AP
The outcome of the summit was a blow to some big involvers namely China, South Korea, and Japan with a stake in that progress. 

Let’s see their next moves. 

Beijing 

Foreign affairs experts say that China is not altogether displeased with the outcome, since it is keen to continue playing a pivotal role in East Asia. 

Analysts said that Beijing, as Pyongyang’s main backer and only military ally, is inwardly happy to hear that the Hanoi summit failed to achieve a breakthrough, as maintaining influence over its neighbor is in its security interests.

“As long as US-North Korea talks are stalled, China would try to use North Korea as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from the US,” a source familiar with Beijing’s thinking said.

For decades China has consistently called for the United States and North Korea to hammer out their issues through dialogue. However, after the deal-less summit in Hanoi, Beijing remains upbeat, according to The Diplomat. 

 
Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman Lu Kang. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman Lu Kang. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said after the summit: “We hope that the DPRK and the US will continue the dialogue, show sincerity, respect and accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns, jointly promote denuclearization and the formation of a peaceful mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.” 

On March 1, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that the US and North Korea should be patient, meet each other halfway and strive for new achievements. China, Yang said, will continue to play a constructive role.

Seoul 

South Korea is disappointed because it will likely face difficulties in deepening economic cooperation with the North amid tight international sanctions on its neighbor.

After President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended their summit without an agreement, South Korean stocks slumped in late trading Thursday [February 28]. The country’s benchmark Kospi index closed down 1.8% shortly after the announcement that the summit cut short without an accord.

 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the historic meeting on April 27, 2018. Photo: AFP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the historic meeting on April 27, 2018. Photo: AFP
As for the two Koreas, their economic cooperation, including a jointly run industrial park at the North’s border city of Kaesong and tours by South Koreans to its Mount Kumgang resort, has been suspended so far in consideration of the US.

Trump’s commitment not to “give up all of the sanctions,” aimed at preventing North Korea from pursing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, will deprive South Korea of an opportunity to resume the joint economic activities, which also include a project to connect railways and roads across the inter-Korean border.

As the Trump-Kim summit did not solve key issues that lie between the United States and North Korea, inter-Korean ties “cannot but have limits,” said Kim Joon-hyung, a professor of international politics at Handong University in Pohang, South Korea.

Under the current circumstances, Kim’s possible visit to Seoul “will not come soon,” although the two Koreas are very eager to strengthen their relations further, a diplomatic source said.

Tokyo

According to foreign experts, Japan has a different set of worries. Tokyo remains threatened by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles without being able to find an opening for breaking the deadlock in bilateral relations.

As denuclearization talks have failed to deliver a substantial outcome, North Korea will continue to have a nuclear arsenal that includes ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan.

Among other East Asian countries, Japan has lagged behind in improving ties with North Korea.

Their relations are stuck in a stalemate over the long-standing issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having stated that tackling the matter is his “life’s work.”

 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with a group representing the families of people abducted by North Korea, at his office in Tokyo on March 7. Photo: Kyodo
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with a group representing the families of people abducted by North Korea, at his office in Tokyo on March 7. Photo: Kyodo
In a latest move, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday [March 6] he is willing to hold direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to break a deadlock over the abduction issue.

“I have to meet face-to-face with Chairman Kim Jong Un to resolve this issue,” Abe said at the outset of a meeting with the abductees’ family members.

The meeting comes a week after U.S. President Donald Trump took up the topic during the second U.S.-North Korean summit in Hanoi, relaying Japan’s stance on the issue to Kim at Abe’s request.

Abe insists the abduction issue be resolved before bilateral relations can be normalized.

But Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said: “Japan risks being isolated from the four-way discussions and developments between the US, North Korea, South Korea and China.”

Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, said: “Abe prefers regime change not allowing Kim to engage in nuclear blackmail.”

Japan’s relations with South Korea have also been deteriorating over matters related to its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, while those with China have been improving.
Linh Pham
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