China Deserves Credit for Donald Trump's North Korea Meeting, State Media Claims

A state-backed newspaper in China has suggested that President Xi Jinping should take credit for the impromptu weekend meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two leaders met Sunday at the border town of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. The visit was hastily arranged after Trump offered to meet Kim at the DMZ via Twitter. The president even stepped across the border onto North Korean soil, making him the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

"Stepping across that line is a great honor," Trump said. "Great progress has been made, great friendships have been made and this has been, in particular, a great friendship."

The president sees the meeting as another historic foreign policy win, despite opponents who argue he has yet again handed Kim a valuable propaganda coup and received nothing in return.

But according to the China Daily newspaper, owned and operated by the ruling Communist Party, the meeting was only possible because of Xi's statecraft.

"While Trump will no doubt take the plaudits, it is unlikely the third face-to-face meeting would have happened without the involvement of President Xi Jinping, who met with both Kim and Trump in the space of a week," an editorial on the newspaper's website read.

The editorial also noted the work of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who along with Xi has "repeatedly" shown his dedication "to keeping Washington and Pyongyang talking."

The unexpected meeting came amid a months-long standoff over Kim's proposed denuclearization and reciprocal sanctions relief. It was announced after the weekend meeting that American and North Korean negotiators would resume talks. "We're not looking for speed. We're looking to get it right," Trump said. "We're on a very good path."

Trump's North Korea strategy centers on establishing a personal relationship with Kim, which he hopes will be enough to secure a deal.

Opponents have criticized Trump for cozying up to the dictator, as he has done with other authoritarian leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi. Trump has described Kim as a "friend" and regularly touts their "very good relationship." But for all the warm words, little of substance has been achieved.

The North stopped missile and nuclear tests but research reportedly continued in both fields. And although Trump froze large-scale joint military drills with South Korea—reportedly without notifying Seoul or even his own commanders—tough economic sanctions remain in place. In the meantime, the three meetings have presented valuable propaganda wins for Kim, who can bolster his power at home by appearing with world leaders as their equal.

Donald Trump, North Korea, Xi Jinping
President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un stand on North Korean soil while walking to South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone on June 30 in Panmunjom at the border between the two Koreas. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty