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:
Korean 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:
Domestic 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).
- Not everything is hunky-dory: Kim Jong-un’s visit to China fails to hide strain in relations / Guardian
“China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was careful to describe the visit as ‘unofficial’…
It was ‘unofficial’ probably because Xi is still angry and frustrated that Kim has shown an utter lack of respect for China’s interests and for Xi personally…Kim is not out of the doghouse yet,” said Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group.
- First lady fashion: Kim Jong-un wife’s fashion sense a hit with China’s public / SCMP
- Optics: Kim touts ‘traditional ties’ with China in first visit / Caixin;
China’s secrecy over Kim Jong-un’s visit was part of a long-standing tradition / SCMP;
Beijing visit of Kim Jong-un goes trending on Weibo, but comments are highly controlled / What’s on Weibo
- Trump’s reaction (by tweet, of course):
Tweet 1: “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”
Tweet 2: “Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”
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.