through the eyes of Xi Jinping: the North Korean situation

As China’s president, he was doing everything he could to truly control the situation. Many said he secretly wanted war, but who wants war? Costly, messy, complicated, distracting things they were. Xi Jinping was trying to prevent war.

Managing the situation

The situation surrounding North Korea was tense, sure, but he needed to keep a lid on it. Much of the world seemed to think that the Chinese and North Koreans were allies. That was hardly true. He despised the North Korean regime. The ideological kinship between the two nations was minimal.

Historically yes, there was an ideological bond between them. Simplistically, Communism was their shared ground. But what did China stand to gain in this current day by defending the communism of North Korea? Very little indeed.

Many people propagated the idea that the Chinese needed North Korea as a buffer state, to insulate them from the gargantuan threat of the U.S.

Xi Jinping

From Xi’s perspective, these were valid hypotheses. But the Americans didn’t seem to understand the extent to which he was willing to go in order to keep peace on the Korean peninsula. Furthermore, they didn’t recognize that these lengths would be mutually beneficial.

Xi Jinping meets with Kim Jong Un, May 8, 2018

When Xi heard Trumps announcement that he was to meet with the North Korean leader, he acted fast. His meeting with Kim Jong Un had gone well and the situation was looking better than Xi could have hoped. After the Trump-Kim meeting, there was now to be a stoppage of nuclear weapons testing on the peninsula, a great victory for China. Really a victory for everyone as Xi saw it. And the Americans had agreed to quite military exercises with South Korea. Exactly as Xi had suggested to Kim.

The Americans appeared to be currently set on severing ties with the Chinese. A U.S.-South Korean invasion of North Korea would yield the overwhelming possibility of nuclear warfare. This was unthinkable, but not for the Americans. They, sitting across an expanse of ocean, wouldn’t be the ones to suffer from nuclear fallout. China would be. Xi, more than anyone else, felt the need to keep the peace.

Xi had come to see it as China’s duty to prop up the Kim regime in order to maintain stability. The threat of a war carried out by the U.S. and South Koreans would devastate the north peninsula and push millions of refugees into China, thereby destabilizing the great nation.

Xi Jinping

What’s more, Xi speculated that the South Koreans desired nuclear weapons. If the Kim regime were to fall, the South would be in position to take the North’s nuclear facilities. Of course this needed to be prevented.

It was a tactful game he needed to play. Any possibility of increased U.S. presence in the area would look bad on his part. For now, keeping things more or less the way they were, was the best way to diminish the U.S. presence and with minimal expense on China’s behalf.

More than anything, it was a game of peace-keeping. But the Americans being the Americans, would continue to read this as antagonism.

Oh, the mind of America…

But at least the situation was being managed. And Xi had played his cards well with the North Koreans. “Keep the situation under control and position China to maintain that control,” he told himself. So far, so good…


This writing is a semi-fictional view into the viewpoint of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in regards to the current situation involving North Korea, South Korea, the U.S. and China. It is based on a relatively small degree of research so I do not claim to be making an objectively factual insight into reality. Rather, view it as an exercise in trying to understand a small corner of the world.

Notes

"Why China Won't Rescue North Korea: What to Expect If Things Fall Apart" by Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs Magazine, January/February 2018 issue

"Elizabeth Economy on Xi Jinping- Council on Foreign Relations podcast The Presidents Inbox