The China Problem

Un Xi Trump

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Column: North Korea is just a part of the challenge confronting Trump and the United States

“I think I understand why that happened,” President Trump said Thursday, reflecting on a change in North Korean behavior that prompted him to cancel a planned summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, the president declined.

Allow me to speculate.

Until recently, the prospects of a summit were high. Experiencing the consequences of debilitating sanctions under President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, Kim Jong Un signaled a new openness. North and South Koreans marched together in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Kim pledged to suspend missile testing and destroy an already-disabled nuclear facility in advance of talks. And most important, at the beginning of May, Kim freed three American hostages in what Trump would describe as a “beautiful gesture” that “was very much appreciated.”

Then the turn came. Continue reading