China Steps In After North Korea Sentences Trump To ‘Death’

The Chinese government will send a special envoy to North Korea on Friday.  The recently scheduled meeting closely follows President Trump’s twelve-day visit to five Asian nations.  As Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a three aircraft carrier group conducted operational deployments in the Western Pacific.

While Beijing denied any direct correlation, Trump pushed Xi to pressure Pyongyang into committing to U.S. demands for nuclear disarmament.

Recent statements from both Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un showed hostility.  Before Trump started his trip, he tweeted insults, describing Kim as “Little Rocket Man.” On Aug. 8, Trump threatened to unleash:

“…Fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

During Trump’s trip, three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers: USS Nimitz, USS Ronald Reagan, and USS Theodore Roosevelt conducted drills off the North Korean coast.  The ship’s 12 strike fighter squadrons, nearly 200 fighter jets, joined with other Navy vessels, including a nuclear attack submarine.

USS Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan USS Kitty Hawk USS Abraham LincolnNimitz class carrier strike group / CC BY

Japan coordinated with U.S. forces for the operation, sending several ships from its navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.  On the same day, South Korea and Republic of Korea ships joined forces for separate naval exercises.

In apparent response, Pyongyang’s state media issued a statement that said Trump deserved to be:

“…Sentenced to death by the Korean people.”

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Rodong Sinmun, a state media mouthpiece for Kim’s regime, condemned Trump a coward for his canceled visit to the demilitarized zone separating North Korea and South Korea.

While Trump described the trip as “tremendously successful,” he took to Twitter to issue a passive-aggressive response.

Trump tweeted,

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

Due to eroded relations, Trump’s diplomatic efforts with China may be the only path to reopening dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.

According to Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, China’s recently arranged meeting does not concern Trump.  Officially, Xi’s special envoy will visit North Korea to report the result of recent rulings from the Communist Party of China (CPC) national congress.  However, the special envoy, Song Tao, is head of the International Department of the CPC.  A ministerial-level Chinese official has not visited North Korea since October 2015.

Despite official statements, some experts believe Song will address nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula.  Expectations for the special envoy to inform North Korea of Washington’s emphasis on disarmament as a precursor to resuming dialogue and ending sanctions are increased.

The CPC has resisted sending a high-level official for some time. Some critics believe prior inaction showed that China was unable or unwilling to engage the North Korean regime.  However, recent U.S. pressure and Trump’s inability to de-escalate the situation on his own may have forced Beijing to take unplanned actions.

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