North Korea was atop the list of priorities for President Donald Trump during his first visit to China, but it remains to be seen how much substantive progress was made on bringing parties closer to a dialogue aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. In this episode of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle joined Carnegie Vice President for Communications and Strategy Jen Psaki on the Carnegie Endowment’s DiploPod podcast to discuss Chinese perspectives on North Korea and the outcomes of Trump’s visit to Beijing.
Haenle said that the level of frustration and debate in China over North Korea is currently at its highest point. Tensions are rising between Beijing and Pyongyang, largely because of actions taken by North Korea to undermine Chinese interests, such as conducting nuclear tests during high-profile international events hosted by China and the recent assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un’s nephew in China. While the United States and China agree on the ultimate objective of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, persistent mistrust and differing priorities prevent the two countries from making significant progress. Ultimately, Haenle argues that North Korean actions that undermine Chinese interests, rather than U.S. pressure, will have a greater impact in fundamentally shifting Beijing’s policy toward Pyongyang.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Jen Psaki is the vice president of communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment. She previously served as White House communications director in Barack Obama’s administration from 2015 to 2017 and as the spokesperson at the state department under then-Secretary of State John Kerry from 2013 to 2015.