President Trump credited his “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions and threats with bringing North Korea to the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear weapons program. Now, having abruptly decided to call off an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore next month, Trump looks poised to revert to a hard line approach.
There’s just one problem: “The multilateral pressure coalition has fallen apart,” says Mira Rapp-Hooper, an East Asia expert at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.
The United States had relied on Beijing to enforce international sanctions against North Korea, given that 90 percent of the isolated state’s trade goes to or through China. Now, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Thursday that more sanctions are coming, China will be needed more than ever.
But in Asia, many hold Trump, not Kim, responsible for the sudden collapse of diplomacy.
From here, Kim looks like the levelheaded leader who was trying to build confidence — releasing American detainees, blowing up the nuclear testing site — while Trump looks impetuous and unreliable. [Continue reading…]