Kim Jong Un visits China

Mar 28, 2018

ON MARCH 28th a sandstorm descended on Beijing like a chemical-weapons attack, sending pollution-monitoring equipment off the charts and reducing visibility to a few metres. The same day the Chinese government announced that Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, had met his Chinese opposite number, Xi Jinping, in Beijing, sending diplomatic speculation off the charts and leaving the prospects for talks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons as hard to discern as ever.

Mr Kim’s visit was shrouded in secrecy from the moment an armoured train, similar to the one his father and grandfather used for foreign trips, pulled into Beijing station, unannounced. The mystery continued throughout his two-day stay, Mr Kim’s first meeting with any head of state and his first known foreign trip since he took power in 2011. The visit was not even confirmed to have taken place until he had returned to Pyongyang. But if it added new puzzles to the geopolitics of North-East Asia, it also made a few things clearer.

The trip affirms China’s central role...

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