China gets what it has been ‘striving for all along’

Screenshot from Bilibili’s May Fourth Movement propaganda film.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 24 hours, you know that U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore yesterday. They agreed that their two countries should carry on talking, and signed a joint statement promising to be nice to each other.

  • Xinhua News Agency buried the Kim-Trump summit story in obscure parts of its website. All mainland news organizations did the same. “Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the meeting was of great significance, and something China long called for” is the gist of China’s official commentary on the summit (see Xinhua English and Chinese stories).  
  • The result of the summit is exactly what China wanted, what it has been “looking forward to and striving for all along,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson today. “The China-proposed ‘suspension for suspension’ initiative has been materialized and now the situation is also moving forward in the direction of the ‘dual-track’ approach.”
  • Chinese social media was strictly censored, although the China Daily’s Weibo account went rogue, live-tweeting about hunger pangs (in Chinese) from the sidelines of the Trump-Kim summit. What little commentary was left undeleted on Chinese social media was generally positive and hopeful about the summit — What’s on Weibo has a good roundup.
  • “The biggest winner of the Trump-Kim summit is China,” says the Washington Post, as Trump promised to halt joint military exercises with South Korea and reduce troop counts on the Korean Peninsula, both of which are on Beijing’s wishlist. Bloomberg has a similar take: China gets everything it wanted from Trump’s meeting with Kim.
  • “Despite the many warts in President Trump’s unconventional diplomacy toward North Korea, we have to give him credit,” argues Victor Cha (paywall), former National Security Council director for Asia, saying that the summit “represents the start of a diplomatic process that takes us away from the brink of war,” and that “for the first time since 1953, the door has been opened to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Cha was recently considered in the running to be Trump’s ambassador to Seoul, and although he is no pinko, he was rejected by the Trump team in January, apparently for not being hawkish enough.
  • Pro-Trump American media was generally happy with the summit: The top story on the website of Fox News is currently North Korea summit: Trump stuns region with call to end military drills. The article notes that “a recent Fox News poll found 66 percent of Americans approve of his decision to meet Kim.”
  • “’They have great beaches!’ Trump included image of Miami when he showed Kim video about North Korea’s future — as he said dictator could develop condos or hotels if he keeps nuke promises and sanctions come off” is the lead paragraph of a story in Britain’s trash tabloid Daily Mail, and the top story linked by popular Trump-supporting American website Drudge Report today.
  • Trump “praised China’s President Xi Jinping for helping secure an agreement toward North Korea’s denuclearization, and said the deal would be good for Beijing,” reports  Reuters.