Whether Washington and Beijing cooperate under the Biden administration depends heavily on whether they reach an understanding on how to approach the DPRK. This was a touchstone for prospects of cooperation under George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as during the first year of the Trump administration. China is watching to see what US policy toward North Korea’s denuclearization will be, while the Biden camp will be closely attentive to how China will respond. From 2018 through 2020 there was less cooperation on North Korea than during recent periods, removing one backstop of diplomatic interactions. While some expect this to change under Biden, it remains unlikely that the atmosphere of close consultations will be restored, both because of loss of trust in the overall relationship and of sharper divergence in approaches to the DPRK. This article points to barriers to cooperating on North Korea.
Retracing the recent developments in US-DPRK and Sino-DPRK relations sets the stage for the primary concern here with Sino-US relations. In 2017 they appeared to peak in agreement at the Security Council on how to respond to more aggressive North Korean behavior. By 2019, however, differences in how to address North Korea’s shift to energetic summit diplomacy exacerbated the downward slide in Sino-US relations. As observers await the Biden administration’s policy review on North Korea, many are anticipating a sharper divide with China, which could be exacerbated by North Korean moves. The possibility also exists that a Sino-US understanding on this challenge could be the opening for more animated diplomacy to put relations on an improving path. It is not, however, an outcome that should be anticipated, given where things now stand.
This article presents four principal conclusions, which many still fail to appreciate. First, China’s cooperation with the United States on North Korea is heavily conditioned on the overall state of relations. Second, cooperation on North Korea has broken down badly during the Trump era despite the fact that China welcomed the Singapore summit. Third, China’s relationship with North Korea has been greatly normalized over this time, although the pandemic temporarily set back trade ties. Finally, China has improved ties to South Korea considerably since the low point after THAAD deployment and expects further consensus on how to engage North Korea and to resist US moves to intensify pressure on it or to join in measures to contain China. For the moment, China is keeping its policy options open, as it awaits new moves by Washington, Pyongyang, and Seoul.
Trump’s legacy on North Korea’s nuclear issue
The legacy Trump will leave on the North Korean nuclear issue as he unwillingly exits the White House serves as one starting point for our analysis. North Korea is one of the few countries that has occupied a top position on the US diplomatic agenda and consumed Trump’s personal energy, albeit for short spurts of attention. In the past four years, we witnessed a dramatic change in US-DPRK relations from a tit-for-tat confrontation to an unprecedented détente. Trump’s policies abruptly shifted from maximum pressure, riddled with fire and fury, to proactive engagement, albeit without a follow-up to the Singapore summit agreement at the subsequent Hanoi summit, brief DMZ meet-and-greet, or in the most recent 18 months. In Singapore, Trump and Kim Jong-un released a four-point joint statement.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to establishing new US–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.1
In anticipation of this first Trump-Kim summit a chain reaction of summit diplomacy in Northeast Asia was triggered. Kim broke his diplomatic isolation and quickly met Xi Jinping, Moon Jae-in, and Vladimir Putin in rapid succession. Détente on the Korean Peninsula kicked in. The Trump administration and North Korean government conducted two rounds of negotiations in Helsinki and Pyongyang-Hanoi in a vain effort to reach some consensus over four major issues that have troubled their relations: North Korea’s denuclearization versus the lifting of UN-imposed sanctions, a peace treaty, normalization of bilateral relations, and a promising future for North Korea.
Since North Korea believed that it had “declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them, and we have taken various measures” including blasting off the nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri in May 2018 and dismantling a major missile-engine testing site in Sohae, Dongchang-ri in May-June 2018, and issued Kim Jong-un’s unilateral agreement to denuclearize Yongbyon, it stubbornly refused to engage in serious negotiations with the US over the nuclear issue before the United States “responds to our proactive, prior efforts with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions.”2
The second summit at Hanoi turned out to be a grand failure even though the US and North Korea had never been so near to concluding a pathbreaking, comprehensive deal before. Many factors contributed to the grand failure, but the lack of mutual trust and the absence of political will to compromise were paramount. Kim unrealistically expected Trump to reciprocate, and Trump wanted Kim to make additional concessions.
If Trump and Kim could have had lunch as planned or if the COVID-19 pandemic had not broken out, Trump and Kim might have reached a deal. Unfortunately, after more than two-years of top-down interactions with Kim, Trump failed to reap his diplomatic achievement on US-North Korean relations, and robbed himself of a chance to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump’s legacy on US-DPRK relations includes:
- Unfinished business regarding North Korea’s denuclearization with a four-point consensus that has not been followed up;
- The return of American citizens detained in North Korea;
- A nearly three-year-long tranquility on the Korean Peninsula, which once was one of the most precarious places on the earth; North Korea’s moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests; the end of large-scale joint exercises Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, and the debut of Dongmaeng joint military exercises between the United States Forces Korea and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces;
- The unravelling of Sino-US cooperation on North Korea’s denuclearization as the two nations began to turn against each other in a grand strategic rivalry.
It is this last point that draws our close attention. It followed from Trump (and Moon) not consulting with China on their diplomacy with the DPRK; from Kim Jong-un’s overtures to Xi Jinping to rebuild relations and pursue a diplomatic track; and from the way China has long conceived of the pathway to a breakthrough, at sharp variance with US thinking, although, for a time, it was unclear how far Trump with break from that.
Biden’s policy toward North Korea
Biden and his team can draw some lessons from Trump’s failure to ink a meaningful deal with Kim. Lesson one, dealing with North Korea seemingly points out that the top leaders’ rapport is necessary in facilitating negotiations between two perennial enemies, but it only serves as a lubricant rather than a defining factor for US-DPRK relations.
Trump attached great importance to his personal relations with Kim Jong-un, even claiming, Kim “wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love.”3 Kim reciprocated this tone after the Hanoi summit, insisting, “as President Trump keeps saying, the personal ties between me and him are not hostile like the relations between the two countries and we still maintain good relations.”4 Even as North Koreans saw US officials, such as John Bolton5 and Mike Pompeo,6 as scum to viciously attack, they showed great
restraint in attacking Trump. When Kim Jong-un heard that Trump and his wife tested positive for COVID-19, he quickly sent a message of sympathy to Trump with his warm greetings and sincerely hoped that they would recover as soon as possible. Bob Woodward revealed “25 personal letters exchanged between [Donald] Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that have not been public before.”7 Such frequent contacts between Trump and Kim failed to enable them to ink a meaningful deal.
Lesson number two, Trump adopted a top-down approach toward North Korea, which has limitations. The US and North Korea conducted two rounds of high-level talks between Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol in Pyongyang and Washington and two rounds of working-level talks, for which North Korea’s negotiating team was not empowered, dooming the summit diplomacy.8
Lesson number three comes from Biden’s dealings with North Korea when he was vice president and played a key role in Obama’s decision-making. Unfortunately, the memory is not good. On February 29, 2012, the United States and North Korea announced in separate statements that North Korea agreed to suspend operations at its Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant, invite IAEA inspectors to monitor the suspension, and implement moratoriums on nuclear and long-range missile tests, while the United States agreed to provide North Korea 240,000 metric tons of food aid under strict monitoring. Yet North Korea attempted a space launch with the Unha-3 in April, and the US responded by halting food aid. The February 29 agreement fell apart. The Obama administration thus adopted a policy some call strategic patience, waiting for North Korea to make its decision to denuclearize. For Biden, how to make North Korea honor its commitment to an agreed deal will be a serious issue.
Biden cannot hide his dislike of Donald Trump, but Trump’s legacy toward North Korea is a half-accomplished infrastructure on which Biden can build. Biegun and his North Korean counterparts have already reached a consensus on some major issues, including diplomatic normalization, turning the armistice into a permanent peace mechanism, economic assistance to North Korea, etc. The only unsettled issue is North Korea’s denuclearization and US agreement to lift sanctions. If North Korea is willing to demonstrate its sincerity, Biden can make good use of Trump’s legacy and put his personal mark on a possible deal.
China’s response and policy choice
As a key stakeholder on the Korean Peninsula, China certainly needs to tailor its policy to meet a new situation caused by its evolving relations with the two Koreas and the United States and the leadership change in Washington. In order to know what China’s policy looks like, it is important to get to know what China has achieved with regard to the Korean Peninsula. China’s three sets of relations have undergone dramatic changes that will define its future policies toward the peninsula.
China has made solid and significant progress in normalizing its relations with North Korea. Since March 2018, Kim Jong-un has visited China four times, and Xi paid a return visit, the culmination of Sino-North Korean relations. Politically, Xi Jinping clearly stated “Four Firm Supports” for North Korea and its paramount leader. The Chinese side will firmly support: the DPRK’s socialist enterprise, firmly support the implementation of its new strategic line, firmly support a political solution to solving the nuclear issue, and firmly support realizing lasting peace and security on the peninsula.9 “China will unswervingly support Chairman Kim in leading the DPRK to implement the new strategic line and focus on developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood for new and greater achievements in the socialist construction of the DPRK.”10 Kim Jong-un reciprocated by saying that “the friendship between the two sides has been long standing, and enjoyed a firm basis, and the two sides are conducting intensive exchanges and friendly cooperation like family.”11 Kim also pledged, he “is willing to follow through the noble intentions left by the elder generation of leaders, and join hands with Xi in boosting bilateral ties at a new historical starting point, and writing new and even more glorious chapters of the DPRK-China friendship.”
Obviously, the “Four Firm Supports” clearly constitutes the very foundation of China’s policy toward North Korea, and it is unlikely to change no matter how the international situation changes. As a result of the four pledged firm supports, the strategic trust between the two countries’ top leaders, which had been undermined by the two countries’ conflicting positions on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, has been repaired if not totally recovered, and both countries are in a process of normalizing and improving their political and diplomatic relations. Although the improved momentum in bilateral relations was suddenly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have demonstrated their strong willingness to “strengthen strategic communication and promote exchanges and mutual learning, to endow our traditional friendship with new connotation” and “carry on their good tradition of high-level exchanges and devise master plans for further developing bilateral ties.”12
In sharp contrast with the quick political recovery, the economic ties between China and North Korea still have been treading water and remained abnormal thanks to the UN-imposed sanctions. No doubt, the sanctions have badly crippled North Korea’s economy even though this country is used to living with all kinds of sanctions from the United Nations and individual nations and has adopted various counter-measures to evade sanctions. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic further aggravated the worsening economic situation. Certainly, the high-profile political interactions between China and North Korea naturally aroused high expectation from North Korea that the warm political relations could help to warm up their economic ties. What China has done for North Korea in the economic field are threefold: first, to offer the necessary humanitarian assistance to North Korea, including food and medicine, in order to fend off any humanitarian crisis and mitigate the pandemic fallout; to conduct business with North Korea that is allowed by UN resolutions, even though the space for legal business is quite limited; and to take the lead to call for the lifting of some sanctions against North Korea, including drafting a resolution with Russia, calling on the UN Security Council to lift sanctions on North Korean exports such as textiles, seafood, and statues, “with the intent of enhancing the livelihood of the civilian population.”13 The ongoing pandemic, to some extent, froze the political and economic interactions between China and North Korea, leaving significant potential for them to grow in the future. Undoubtedly, to enhance bilateral economic ties will be a high priority for both China and North Korea as soon as disrupted economic lives return to normal.
The improving Sino-ROK relationship
Right before Moon Jae-in came to power, South Korea had its worst relationship with China since the two countries normalized relations in 1992. The immediate cause was South Korea’s decision to allow its ally the United States to deploy one set of THAAD on its territory. China perceived the deployment of THAAD as the US effort to “boost its global missile defense system”14 and as “harmful to the regional ‘strategic balance’ and nuclear deterrence capabilities of China and Russia,”15 which gave the US a strategic advantage over China.
After assuming the presidency, Moon Jae-in quickly paid a visit to China. Xi used a metaphor to characterize current Sino-South Korean relations: “snow is melting, spring flowers are blooming.”16 Even though the THAAD issue, which once dealt a blow to Sino-South Korean relations, remained unsolved, both sides agreed to shelve the issue and seek to move forward. As the Korean Peninsula embraced the entente, South Korea and China began to find themselves on the same page with regard to a number of issues. For example, both countries want to seek a solution to the Korea question through peaceful means, to maintain stability on the peninsula and oppose any regime change attempt, to stop or scale back military exercises targeting North Korea, and to offer North Korea assistance if needed and seek early partial lifting of sanctions against North Korea. As both countries faced maximum pressure from the Trump administration for different reasons, they found themselves sharing a strong aversion to Trump’s heavy-handed pressure, while taking common stands on multilateralism versus unilateralism and globalization versus protectionism.
In the past two years, we have witnessed diverging evolving directions for South Korea’s relations with the United States, its traditional ally, and China, its largest trading partner. On the one hand, South Korea and the United States have been at odds over a variety of issues. The negotiations over the burden-sharing for the 28,500 US troops in South Korea have dragged on more than a year and seemingly cannot wrap up during Trump’s era. As they are at loggerheads in the burden-sharing talks, Moon Jae-in will not be able to accomplish his long-pursued goal of transferring the wartime operational control of South Korean forces from the US to South Korea during his presidency. A South Korean professor B.J. Lee claimed, “South Korea is one of the most loyal U.S. allies. Now we’re being bullied by Trump.”17 Obviously, mutual grievance between the two old allies have deepened.
In contrast to the United States and South Korea, the two allies, seemingly drifting apart, China and South Korea are moving closer. The COVID-19 pandemic, which further drove a wedge into the fractured Sino-US relationship, pulled China and South Korea together. At the beginning of the pandemic, both sides rendered badly-needed support to each other and took the lead to open the fast-lanes to facilitate the movement of people, who could resume their business early. Chinese consul general in Jeju Wang Lu acclaimed, China and South Korea set themselves as role models in effectively bringing the epidemic under control and cooperating with each other. As in-person diplomacy was put on hold due to the pandemic, two senior Chinese officials’ visits to South Korea were eye-catching. In August, Yang Jiechi, a member of Political Bureau, paid a two-day visit to Busan, exchanging views with Suh Hoon, Moon Jae-in’s top national security advisor. Yang confirmed that South Korea is at the top of the list of countries that Xi will visit “as soon as the right environment is created.”18 Yang said, “China is willing to work together with South Korea to strengthen high-level exchanges and strategic communication, promote docking of development strategies, explore and cultivate new growth areas in bilateral cooperation and boost economic, trade and cultural exchanges so as to elevate the China-South Korea strategic cooperative partnership to a new level.”19 In November, Wang Yi, a state councilor and foreign minister, visited Seoul and agreed on a ten-point consensus to raise the Sino-South Korean strategic cooperative partnership to a new level.20 In the consensus, the third item is to launch a dialogue mechanism China-ROK "2+2" on diplomacy and security, while launching a China-ROK dialogue on maritime affairs. If China and South Korea follow through, the 2+2 dialogue will be the first of this type China has forged, and the first one done with a US ally. Even though the THAAD issue will not fade away, both China and South Korea sent a clear message to the world that they intend to build closer relations and such an effort will not be affected by the ongoing strategic rivalry between Beijing and Washington.
Broken Sino-US cooperation on the Korean issue
Although China and the United States were not on the same page with regard to responding to North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, they managed to jointly endorse the passage of eleven sanctions resolutions against North Korea by the UNSC since 2006. When Trump came to power, he faced a significant challenge from North Korea, which had conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, 2016. In order to solicit China’s support, Trump made a proposal to link China’s support for a deal with North Korea with the trade issue between the US and China. On April 11, 2017, Trump tweeted, “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”21 Even though China did not accept the linkage, China still endorsed the passage of UNSC resolutions 2371, 2375, and 2397 after North Korea conducted an ICBM test and its sixth nuclear test.
Nonetheless, the negotiations between Washington and Beijing over these resolutions did not go well, creating mutual grievances: the US government alleged that China was not tough enough, and China believed that the US was too demanding. When the UNSC 2397 was under consideration, the White House published the National Security Strategy of the United States of America,22 which designated China a revisionist power that “seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor.”23 Clearly, the new strategy helped to break the deadlock in the talks over the toughest resolution against North Korea. China agreed to impose oil sanctions on North Korea. The strategy also ushered in an unprecedented, full-scale, tit-for-tat strategic competition between China and the United States. Since Trump ordered 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminum from all suppliers including from China on March 8, 2018, a trade war broke out and quickly escalated into a full-blown confrontation that pitted China and the United States against each other in almost every field, including the North Korean nuclear issue.
After Vice President Pence’s inflammatory anti-China speech at the Hudson Institute on October 4, 2018, Sino-US relations further worsened. Pompeo spent less than half a day in Beijing on his four-state tour in early October 2018. Given the fact that Pompeo had just visited Pyongyang and met Kim Jong-un, such a short stay in Beijing visibly demonstrated that the US and China had lost interest in finding common ground to deal with North Korea’s nuclear issue. Since then Pompeo has not visited China, and China’s top diplomatic envoy Wang Yi also has not visited the United States. From April 27, 2020, China’s official media began to label Pompeo a common enemy of mankind as China and the United States heightened their finger-pointing over the new pandemic issue. Diplomatic consultations or coordination between the Chinese and American governments dropped to a minimum. When China and Russia jointly tabled a draft resolution for the UNSC, calling for lifting some sanctions against North Korea, the US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun paid a surprise visit to Beijing in an effort to “to discuss the need to maintain international unity on North Korea.”24 Since then, Biegun has had no direct contact with his Chinese counterpart over the North Korea issue. Kong Xuanyou, deputy foreign minister and the special representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula affairs, has never visited Washington after assuming this position in August 2017. In June 2019, Kong was appointed China’s ambassador to Japan, and so far, the Chinese government has not appointed his successor on peninsular affairs. The absence of Kong’s successor seemingly reflects the battered international cooperation on the North Korea issue and may also reveal that Beijing is not in a hurry to jump start the stalled talks over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
In the past two and a half years, we have witnessed how China and the United States have conducted their relations with North Korea on two, parallel tracks with minimum consultation and coordination. Cooperation on North Korea’s nuclear issues has been significantly undermined if not total destroyed by worsening general relations between the two major powers. In the foreseeable future, we can hardly see any possible chance for the two nations to resume their cooperation. The low possibility of cooperation will have a significant impact on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
China’s policy choice
The above-mentioned analysis of evolving relations between China and three other stakeholders establishes criteria for China to reassess North Korea’s nuclear issue. First, the deteriorating relations between China and the United States will not be abruptly reversed even though Biden may want to mend fences with China. The Trump administration has adopted a slew of anti-China measures, many of which have been institutionalized. Given the fact that American society is badly divided, Biden may face mounting restraints from all walks of life; it will not be easy for Biden to undo some China-related measures if he cannot get something in return from China. The best possible scenario for Sino-US relations is that both sides quickly take measures to stop the freefall of relations and stabilize them in the first half of next year.
The North Korean nuclear issue has been perceived from a narrow, Korean Peninsula-specific angle. China could allow the Security Council to slap sanctions against its traditional ally North Korea in order to maintain stability in Sino-US relations and keep the Korean Peninsula nuclear free, but the mounting strategic rivalry between China and the United States inevitably changed its perceptions. Both China and the United States are now more likely to perceive Korean issues from the perspective of Sino-US strategic rivalry, the United States will become increasingly vigilant about lifting sanctions against North Korea, whereas China will become increasingly reluctant to further punish North Korea, even if it does something provocative in the future. Cooperation between Washington and Beijing on North Korea is becoming increasingly dependent on the overall state of Sino-US ties.
The ongoing Sino-US strategic rivalry will definitely complicate North Korean efforts to seek a deal with the United States, which is the only power standing in the way of it removing the UN-imposed sanctions and embracing meaningful economic reform and opening its door to the outside world. Certainly, North Korea has strong reasons to isolate future talks with the US from the Sino-US strategy rivalry. Yet this will not be easy, in light of US conditions for a breakthrough and the need for China, the lifeline for North Korea’s economy and the safeguard in case of trouble, to buy into any deal.
China will not abandon or change its traditional “no war, no chaos, no nuclear” formula on the Korean Peninsula, since the three objectives all serve China’s national interests. Unfortunately, as the very foundation of Sino-US cooperation on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula has been greatly weakened, the no-nuclear objective becomes increasingly remote if not totally impossible. Any denuclearization deal will involve all kinds of measures to secure the deal’s implementation, verification, and North Korea’s economic and financial compensation. Without Sino-US cooperation, the denuclearization of the peninsula will become impossible. If China and the United States cannot mend fences and remain hostile to each other under the Biden administration, China may need to prepare to set nuclear crisis management and nuclear nonproliferation as the priorities in its policy toward the Korean Peninsula.
Even though relations between China and the United States are in bad shape, China has once again gained a comfortable position for maintaining good relations with both Koreas. From 1992, as China and South Korea enjoyed fast-paced development in their bilateral relations, China and North Korea struggled to set their relations on a normal and sustainable track. Kim Jong-il’s visit to China in May 2000 brought a short period of entente to North Korea relations with major powers. China thus could make good use of friendly relations with the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, and Japan to host and chair the Six-Party Talks. However, North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009 effectively ended the talks and threw Sino-DPRK political relations into disarray. Having regained good relations with both, China can serve as an honest mediator between Pyongyang and Seoul, and can host a three-way meeting if the Six-Party talks cannot be revived.
China’s policy choice, to a large extent, will be determined by the Sino-US strategic rivalry and its future evolution, North Korea’s policy toward the United States, and Inter-Korean relations. It will prudently stay on the sidelines for a time rather than take risky preemptive actions before the course of these independent variables becomes clear.
1. Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit, Issued on June 12, 2018, www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-donald-j-trump-united-states-america-chairman-kim-jong-un-democratic-peoples-republic-korea-singapore-summit/.
2. “Kim Jong Un, New Year Address on January 1, 2019,” KCNA.
3. Roberta Rampton, “’We fell in love:’ Trump swoons over letters from North Korea’s Kim,” Reuters, September 30, 2018, www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-trump-idUSKCN1MA03Q.
4. “Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Makes Policy Speech at First Session of 14th Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” KCNA, April 13, 2019.
5. “Spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DPRK Slams U.S. National Security Adviser,” KCNA, May 27, 2019.
6. “DPRK Foreign Minister’s Statement Rebukes U.S. State Secretary’s Anti-DPRK Malarkey,” KCNA, August 23, 2019.
7. “Bob Woodward obtains letters between Trump and Kim Jong-un for new book Rage,” Guardian, August 13, 2020.
8. Stephen Biegun revealed that the key lesson of the Hanoi summit is that the North Korean negotiating team was not empowered to discuss serious topics. See “Biegun says diplomacy ‘best’ and ‘only’ course to resolving N.K. challenges,” Yonhap News, December 14, 2020, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201210007953325.
9. “China ready to join DPRK in turning blueprint of bilateral ties into reality,” China Daily, June 21, 2019, www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201906/21/WS5d0cb3b9a3103dbf143299b0.html.
10. “Xi calls for new development of China-DPRK relations in new era,” China Daily, June 19, 2019.
11. “China ready to join DPRK in turning blueprint of bilateral ties into reality.”
12. Edith M. Lederer, “Correction: China seeks to lift some North Korea sanctions,” AP, December 18, 2019, www.apnews.com/article/13e2f23075a6f1c4ef92bd1d803dda70.
14. “China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s Regular Press Conference on March 29, 2017,” www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/./xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/t1449905.shtml.
15. “China, Russia Sign Joint Statement on Strengthening Global Strategic
Stability,” Xinhua, June 26, 2016. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-06/26/c_135466187.htm.
16. Revealed by a participant at the Xi-Moon meeting in December 2017.
17. B.J. Lee, “South Korea is one of the most loyal U.S. allies. Now we’re being bullied by Trump,” The Washington Post, November 21, 2019.
18. Mimi Lau, Park Chan-kyong, “Effectively bring the epidemic under control and made solid progress in cooperation,” South China Morning Post, August 22, 2020, www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3098448/chinese-president-xi-jinping-visit-south-korea-soon-COVID-19.
20. For the full text of the ten-point consensus, see “State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Reaches 10 Consensuses with the ROK’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha,” November 26, 2020, www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjb_663304/wjbz_663308/activities_663312/t1836486.shtml.
21. For the full text, see https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/851766546825347076.
22. For the full text, see www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf.
23. “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” The White House, December 2017, p. 25.
24. “U.S. envoy for North Korea to visit China this week: State Department,” Reuters, December 18, 2019, www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-china/u-s-envoy-for-north-korea-to-visit-china-this-week-state-department-idUSKBN1YL2KZ.