With an oddly emotional letter to Kim Jong-un and a tweeted speech, Donald Trump upended the news cycle again by canceling his planned meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12. Trump’s letter blames Kim for the “tremendous anger and open hostility in your most recent statement.” Here is a roundup of reactions to the news:
- “Mr. Kim may have already earned enough good will among his neighbors — especially his country’s main trading partner, China,” says Jane Perlez of the New York Times (paywall), that sanctions will be softened despite the cancellation of the Kim-Trump summit.
- Perlez also sees a win for China: “The cancellation of the meeting allows Mr. Xi to use his influence with North Korea — including his ability to tighten or weaken enforcement of economic sanctions against it — as leverage while Beijing negotiates a trade deal with Washington.”
- “I am very perplexed and it is very regrettable that the North Korea-U.S. summit will not be held on June 12 when it was scheduled to be held,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to Reuters.
- Too hasty: Both Japanese and Chinese governments felt the arrangement of the Kim-Trump meeting was moving too fast, according to the above-linked New York Times article. Robert E. Kelly, Korea scholar (and BBC dad), seemed to agree in a CNN interview: “If it’s a total cancellation I don’t think that’s a good sign… But if it’s a postponement that allows the experts to get together and try to work on some arrangement…to provide a framework for a future meeting, that’s not a bad thing.”
- As is its custom for interesting breaking news, Xinhua News Agency published a very brief five-line statement with no details (in Chinese) about Trump’s cancellation.
- “Beyond the very serious geopolitical stakes, this move is pure Trump. A theatrical withdrawal from a potential ‘deal,’ and reminder to Americans that he milked his adversary and gave them nothing in return.” That’s how Axios sees the cancellation, and the Trump administration would certainly like to promote the idea that Kim got nothing.
- However, many nuclear security analysts such as Jeffrey Lewis aka Arms Control Wonk have been arguing that the mere offer of a face-to-face meeting with the U.S. president with no preconditions was a huge regime-legitimating concession.
- “What are people who invested in Dandong real estate going to do, lose all their money?” (丹东炒房团怎么办，亏死了? dāndōng chǎofángtuán zěnmebàn, kuīsǐle) was one reaction on Weibo (in Chinese) to the cancellation. But a more typical comment is perhaps this one: Trump is “an old hooligan with a mouth full of crap who seems to be a sore loser” (老流氓满嘴屁话，看来是输不起了 lǎo liúmáng mǎnzuǐ pìhuà, kànlái shì shūbùqǐle).