Are Xi and Kim on a de-escalation course?

Following the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the Chinese head of state Xi Jinping in Beijing, Chinese media have spoken of a harmonious encounter and quoted Kim stating that the issue of denuclearisation could be resolved. Some media see first signs of a detente in the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Others see obstacles beyond those in Pyongyang and Beijing.

Open/close all quotes
Le Temps (CH) /

Trump lagging behind the events

The results of the talks between Xi and Kim could mark a turning point to which the US president is compelled to react, warns Le Temps:

“The signing of a peace treaty and the guarantee of a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons would be great news for global security. A prerequisite for this is that Pyongyang and Washington relinquish decisive points in military issues. The process will be long and complex. Kim Jong-Un is preparing for this by cooperating with his Chinese godfather. Donald Trump welcomes the gesture. He also has to count on Beijing to achieve a result. But the US president, who is still replacing his closest advisers, seems to be less well-prepared for his role.”

Der Standard (AT) /

No prospect of situation being defused

The standard, on the other hand, doubts that the situation on the Korean Peninsula will wind down:

“It is difficult to believe, that Kim is really planning to carry out all of the things he is rumored to have promised in China. ... It even remains uncertain whether a meeting with Trump will ever actually happen, even though the US president claims to believe that it will. Pyongyang has still not publicly confirmed the plans: We only know that such plans exist because South Korea, China and the USA are talking about it. Even less probable is that North Korea plans any form of nuclear disarmament. Atomic weapons are Kim's life insurance. Pyongyang will find it more difficult to believe in any form of treaty with the USA if Trump continues at the same time to work on spectacularly tearing up the Iran deal while employing a security advisor whose favorite solution for almost every problem is to rain bombs down.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

China's pawn

Beijing knows precisely how to use North Korea to serve its own interests, Aamulehti observes:

“If China wanted to, it could end Kim Jong-un's dictatorship and quickly force North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons. China is North Korea's lifeline. The North Korean dictatorship still exists only thanks to China's help and trade with China. ... If Beijing persuaded Kim to give up nuclear weapons and his missile programme and managed to defuse the tensions on the peninsula, this would be deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. And if Donald Trump meets Kim Jong-un and the situation on the peninsula stabilises, the applause will still go to Beijing. That would aid China in its efforts to become the world's leading superpower.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Xi back in the game

The leaders of China and North Korea benefitted equally from the meeting, De Telegraaf concludes.

“For both Xi and Kim, the visit was decisive. Beijing, which had initially been ignored, has reinserted itself fully into the negotiation process between Pyongyang and Seoul and Washington. On the other hand, Kim has made sure that he still has the support of his powerful neighbour and old ally. A personal conversation with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in is planned for April, and at the end of May Kim will meet Donald Trump. Xi shaking hands with Kim is both a symbolic gesture and a masterly political move.”