Chinese Views of the Inter-Korean Summit: Back on Track – For Now
Beijing is concerned with both fear of war and fear of reunification on South Korean terms, which could eliminate North Korea’s buffer function against the United States on the Korean peninsula. But relations with the North Korean ally have not been in good shape for quite some time, eventually leading China to significantly increase economic pressure on Pyongyang through greater commitment to sanctions enforcement. As a result, it temporarilyseemed as if China was sidelined in the surprising diplomatic overtures between the two Koreas and the United States in recent months. By inviting Kim Jong-un to Beijing in late March, however, Xi Jinping made clear that his influence on the Korean peninsula is not on the wane. If the inter-Korean summit was the prelude to the Trump-Kim summit, the Xi-Kim meeting served as the enabling condition for both.