US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will wrap up his tour of Japan, North Korea and South Korea with a visit to Beijing today, likely meeting his counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Mr Pompeo’s arrival comes as tensions between the US and China have reached new highs. President Donald Trump has accused Beijing of meddling in November’s midterm elections and recently sanctioned China for the purchase of Russian military equipment. In turn, China cancelled high-level military talks with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.
Today’s visit will thus likely aim to repair damaged bilateral ties while reaffirming a commitment to North Korean denuclearisation—the general purpose of Mr Pompeo’s tour. While Beijing certainly supports the effort, officials likely fear the prospect of North Korea no longer in China’s sphere of influence.
In order to achieve concrete progress in the coming months, the US will need to work around these Chinese counter-interests—primarily by engaging with Pyongyang directly and establishing trust. Going forward Beijing may decide to pull back sanctions to maintain Kim’s good graces.
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Taylor provides insight into trade and technology, with a particular focus on North America and the Asia Pacific. He also serves as a copy editor on The Daily Brief.