The fearsome foursome: Xi and Peng dine with Kim and Ri


Yesterday, just after we hit “send” on our newsletter that discussed Kim Jong-un’s unannounced visit to Beijing, Chinese and North Korean state media confirmed the visit had taken place and circulated photographs of Xi Jinping 习近平 and Kim Jong-un 金正恩 meeting, Kim looking at impressive stuff, and the two leaders enjoying a banquet with their wives, Peng Liyuan 彭丽媛 and Ri Sol Ju 李雪主.

The People’s Daily’s photo gallery and readout (in Chinese) on the visit led with this bog-standard handshake image:

pd xi kimKorean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official wire service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, led its readout (in Korean; photo gallery also published on SupChina) with this photo of the first couples’ intimate dinner:

kcna xi kimDomestic readerships are the intended audience for both these state media articles. If I may be permitted some pop psych analysis: The People’s Daily’s image choice emphasizes Xi’s statesmanship, while KCNA focuses on the respect and hospitality with which Kim was treated.

“Kim’s message for Trump: China is back on our side” is how Bloomberg summarizes the aim and result of the visit. I agree, and stand by my comment in yesterday’s newsletter that this trip was intended to send a signal to Trump that there is no daylight between Beijing and Pyongyang. The message is much stronger now that the meeting has been officially reported as a success by both Beijing and Pyongyang.

More on Kim Jong-un’s visit:

  • Lies: Hot take: What does Kim Jong-un’s trip to China mean? / Lowy Institute
    “Next time the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the real issue is between the U.S. and North Korea, and that China is just a mediator or just wants stability, we will know they are lying,” writes Robert E. Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University in South Korea (a.k.a. the BBC dad).

Fall to Earth already!

If you’re getting sick of reading stories about Chinese space station Tiangong-1 about to fall to Earth but don’t want to miss the action, you can watch a live feed from the Virtual Telescope Project and Tenagra Observatories showing the trajectory of the doomed craft.